DOMA | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Leon Panetta | Military

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Extends Benefits to Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers, Families

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today extended benefits previously unavailable to gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families. The benefits are nearly the full extent permitted under current law.

PanettaPanetta's statement:

"Seventeen months ago, the United States military ended the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  We have implemented the repeal of that policy and made clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place in the Department of Defense.

"At the time of repeal, I committed to reviewing benefits that had not previously been available to same-sex partners based on existing law and policy.  It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country.  The department already provides a group of benefits that are member-designated.  Today, I am pleased to announce that after a thorough and deliberate review, the department will extend additional benefits to same-sex partners of service members.  

"Taking care of our service members and honoring the sacrifices of all military families are two core values of this nation.  Extending these benefits is an appropriate next step under current law to ensure that all service members receive equal support for what they do to protect this nation.

"One of the legal limitations to providing all benefits at this time is the Defense of Marriage Act, which is still the law of the land.  There are certain benefits that can only be provided to spouses as defined by that law, which is now being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.  While it will not change during my tenure as secretary of defense, I foresee a time when the law will allow the department to grant full benefits to service members and their dependents, irrespective of sexual orientation.  Until then, the department will continue to comply with current law while doing all we can to take care of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families.
"While the implementation of additional benefits will require substantial policy revisions and training, it is my expectation that these benefits will be made available as expeditiously as possible.  One of the great successes at the Department of Defense has been the implementation of DADT repeal.  It has been highly professional and has strengthened our military community.  I am confident in the military services' ability to effectively implement these changes over the coming months."

View a copy of Panetta's MEMO, AFTER THE JUMP...

Outserve-SLDN reacted to the announcement:

Though Panetta’s announcement did not include a number of important items that could have been granted - including on-base housing, burial rights at national cemeteries and some overseas travel for spouses, which remain under consideration - Robinson called the package “substantive” and acknowledged that the Pentagon has done almost as much as it can with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still on the books.

“Secretary Panetta’s decision today answers the call President Obama issued in his inaugural address to complete our nation's journey toward equality, acknowledging the equal service and equal sacrifice of our gay and lesbian service members and their families. We thank him for getting us a few steps closer to full equality - steps that will substantively improve the quality of life of gay and lesbian military families,” said Robinson.

Same SexBenefitsMemo by towleroad


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  1. "The benefits are nearly the full extent permitted under current law." Nearly? Why not all?

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Feb 11, 2013 12:07:53 PM

  2. The 21st century is turning OUT to be OUR TIME... looking back, the same old B.S. of the Church,the Reliegious Right and Conservative Republicans are heading down the ladder as we get closer and closer to Equality Rights we are promised in the U.S. Constitution. President Obama has evolved into our best friend and the Democratic Party as the party of inclusion. Our fight is not over until we have equal rights under the law. Thank you President Obama,your administration and all the one man armies of gays and friends of gay who helped us to get closer to the Promisedland of Equality.

    Posted by: Jerry Pritikin the bleacher Preacher | Feb 11, 2013 12:21:46 PM

  3. About time.

    Still no word on healthcare benefits due to DOMA...and housing because of "Scarce resources" . but otherwise, some good stuff. joint assignments? hot damn!

    Posted by: william | Feb 11, 2013 5:31:13 PM

  4. HOWEVER MUCH THIS IS ONE STEP FORWARD & TWO STEPS BACK, we must thank Ft. Bragg Army wife Ashley Broadway, other members of the American Military Partners Association, and our allies in Congress led by Cong. Adam Schiff and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeanne Shaheen, and Barbara Boxer for succeeding in what PAID Gay, Inc., organizations barely tried to do—forcing the Obama Administration to FINALLY stop holding hostage some benefits to LGB military couples. Sadly, if predictably—as they’re always eager to thank Massa for any pat on the head—SLDN and HRC have fallen all over themselves rushing to thank Secretary Panetta/Commander-in-Chief Obama for what is a half loaf. Yes, it’s still a milestone, but it COULD and SHOULD have happened the same day the repeal bill was signed OVER TWO YEARS AGO because the Pentagon ADMITTED in their report released on NOVEMBER 30, 2010, that they had ALREADY identified what benefits could be extended. Is there ANY acceptable excuse for delaying IMPLEMENTATION of these benefits until the end of August or beginning of October? ABSOLUTELY NOT for the same reason. Is what Mr. Panetta is CLAIMING why access to VITAL “on-base housing” can’t be extended credible? ABSOLUTELY NOT because that 2010 Pentagon report SPECIFICALLY and UNEQUIVOCALLY revealed that, emphasis THEIRS:

    “For benefits such as [military family housing] the Department of Defense COULD legally direct the services to revise their regulations to extend coverage to service members’ same-sex partners. This could be accomplished in two ways: leave to the Service member the freedom to designate his or her ‘dependents’, ‘family members’, or similar term; or, revise these definitions to specifically mention a committed, same-sex relationship, and require some type of proof of that committed relationship. The latter is similar to the approach now being taken in Federal agencies for civilian employees.”

    I correctly predicted they would continue to ARBITRARILY deny this benefit because—their hollow, disingenuous, and outright false excuses aside—the obvious real reason is that they don’t want to deal with a possible uproar from Private and Mrs. Tater about the horror of the Tater tots having to live next door to ho-mo-sexuals! This is the same kind of cowardice and lack of leadership motivated by homophobia in their own top ranks and mostly IMAGINARY fears about the field that led them to drag out first even TALKING about repealing DADT and, then, DELAYING implementing it as long as possible. At a press conference today, a paid Pentagon shill drooled that they can't include access to military family housing because it would be "violating the spirit" of DOMA. WHEN the hell did it become the DoD's responsibility, let alone expertise, to define the "spirit" of any law?

    And, AGAIN, the focus on partnership benefits alone which, as important as they are, only affect the MINORITY of LGBs in the services obscures the fact that Secretary Panetta is STILL refusing to include all of them under the crucial protections against harassment and discrimination of the Military Equal Opportunity Program.

    ATTENTION SLDN, HRC—and NGLTF and Lambda Legal: it’s YOUR move now—and because you had virtually NOTHING to do with even this partial step happening it’s far past time you started EARNING the money the gay community sends you. Mere LIP SERVICE to existing to FIGHT for us is no longer enough.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwellchael | Feb 11, 2013 5:31:15 PM

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