Pentagon Officially Extends Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel J. Scott Applewhite/AP File Photo

The Defense Department on Monday formally adapted its definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” to include legally married same-sex couples, finalizing a plan it announced in August.

The change came after the Pentagon issued an interim rule to update its identification card policy, effective immediately. The Supreme Court found unconstitutional in June 2013 the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman unconstitutional. A few weeks later, Defense took the initial steps to extend benefits to same-sex couples.

The guidance will allow the department to provide federal benefits to the same-sex spouses of all its military members and civilian employees.

The Pentagon’s definition of spouse now reads, “A person legally married under the law of the place in which the marriage was celebrated to a current, former, or retired uniformed service member, eligible civilian employee, or other eligible individual…regardless of gender or state of residence.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had hoped to extend benefits to same-sex spouses sooner, originally setting the deadline for Sept. 3. He ran into roadblocks, however, when the National Guard of Texas and five other states announced they would refuse to issue the requisite identification cards to gay couples. The states recently ended their protests and all legally married partners of National Guardsmen are now eligible for benefits.

The rule marks the culmination of several years of progress for gay rights activists at Defense. In 2011, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed, allowing openly gay members of the military to serve. In February 2013, then-Secretary Leon Panetta extended some rights, but not health benefits, to gay couples in the military.

The guidance puts the department in line with the rest of the federal government; the Office of Personnel Management issued its instructions for the implementation of the repeal of DOMA’s Section 3 just two days after the Supreme Court’s decision.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.