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Pentagon Announces Same-Sex Spouse Benefits

Posted on in Civil Unions

The Department of Defense has recently announced its plan to extend a range of federal benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel and civilian defense employees. The changes are being made as a result of the Supreme Court decision that overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In its decision, the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

KerryThe benefits will be available regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate. The Pentagon also said it would allow up to 10 days of leave for couples who are not stationed in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage to a jurisdiction that does allow it. There are currently thirteen states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriages.

Some opponents have criticized the Pentagon for allowing special military leave for same-sex couples to marry, saying there are special provisions in law for adoptions, child birth and emergency situations, but not for marriage.  But the Pentagon says this policy will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department.

Same-sex spouses will be eligible for entitlements such as military health benefits and housing allowances on a retroactive basis if they were legally married before the June 26 Supreme Court decision.  The changes went into effect Sept. 3.

Although Illinois does not currently recognize same-sex marriages, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act allows for civil unions. If you are considering a civil union or domestic partnership, consult an experienced DuPage County family attorney to ensure that all legal documentation and planning are done correctly, while protecting your best interests.


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