Two years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” all military spouses and partners — the wife of a lesbian officer, the husband of a gay soldier — will be able to receive military identification cards as dependents.
Just days before leaving office, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that those same-sex spouses who sign a military “Declaration of Domestic Partnership” form will be eligible for a number of benefits. Military ID cards give spouses and partners crucial benefits, including unescorted status on bases and access to commissaries, as well as the right to visit their partners in military hospitals. In addition, same-sex spouses can now receive survivor benefits that include life insurance payments.
The changes should go into effect by October 1, 2013 at the latest.
Unfortunately, the benefits that same-sex spouses will receive will not be anywhere near equal to those given to married military couples, due to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which claims that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, says CNN. As a result, same-sex military spouses will not receive health care coverage (i.e., medical and dental benefits) or housing assistance.
The fact that same-sex spouses and partners remain shut out from such essential benefits gives us all the more reason to work to fight DOMA, which the Supreme Court is expected to rule on this summer.
Many thanks to Secretary Panetta for, finally, reducing discrimination against same-sex military couples by ordering access to military IDs for all military spouses and partners. His order has made it possible for the spouses and partners of 5,600 troops on active duty, 3,400 National Guard troops and 8,000 retirees to be able to get military ID cards and have access to the services they have too long been denied.
Thanks to the nearly 12,000 Care2 members who signed the petition encouraging Secretary Panetta and helping to make this happen.
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