Pentagon Gets Gay Friendly in a Hurry

Until this year, being gay could get you kicked out of the military. Now, it comes with perks.

gays-military-flag

Until this year, being gay could get you kicked out of the military. Now, it comes with perks.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memo, datestamped August 13, “Extending Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses of Military Members.” A news release went out today outlining the implementation:

Today, the Department of Defense announced its plan to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees, according to a DOD news release issued today.

After a review of the department’s benefit policies following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies, the Defense Department will make spousal and family benefits available no later than Sept. 3, 2013, regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate.

The DOD remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs.

Entitlements such as TRICARE enrollment, basic allowance for housing and family separation allowance are retroactive to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision. Any claims to entitlements before that date will not be granted. For those members married after June 26, 2013, entitlements begin at the date of marriage.

The DOD recognizes that same-sex military couples who are not stationed in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage would have to travel to another jurisdiction to marry. That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of travelling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur. This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department, and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married.

For civilian benefits administered government-wide to federal employees, the DOD will follow the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Labor’s guidance to ensure that the same benefits currently available to heterosexual spouses are also available to legally married same-sex spouses.

Simultaneously, Hagel reversed his predecessor’s February 11 order extending various benefits to same-sex partners, reasonably concluding that this remedy was “no longer necessary to remedy the inequity that was caused by section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.”

The ruling here is remarkably swift for a large bureaucracy, let alone one immersed in a shooting war and dealing with the effects of sequestration. It’s really a no-brainer that, since gays are allowed in the military and they’re allowed to marry, gay soldiers who are married are entitled to the same benefits as straight soldiers who are married.

The one quibble is the issue of non-charged leave to travel to get married. Reports are that “Service members stationed in the contiguous United States will receive up to seven days leave, and those in Hawaii, Alaska and overseas can get up to 10 days.”   Critics will note that straight service members have to use their annual leave if they wish to travel to get married, so this amounts to a “special benefit.” The Pentagon’s explanation, that all 50 states allow people to marry members of the opposite sex, making travel unnecessary, is reasonable enough. But seven and ten days does seem excessive to solve this administrative inequity.

s

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Freedom. Yeah!!!

  2. michael reynolds says:

    And yet the Republic still stands and God has not zapped us with a cosmic lightning bolt. I don’t get it.

  3. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The military was ordered to accept gays, and make it work.

    Why is it news that they’re obeying those orders?

  4. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: God procrastinates. Fore example, he waited until 2001 punish the USA for electing Clinton 🙂

  5. John Peabody says:

    The permissive TDY (to use Army lingo) jumped out at me, too. Is it the job of DoD to facilitate marriage? Isn’t that something you do on your own time, and on your own dime? Note how this is a disadvantage to gays that already live in gar-marriage states…will they then get the TDY anyway? Then the straght marriage people would have a case…

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @ Michael Reynolds….
    I suspect that, much like the rapidly shrinking deficit, you will not hear that discussed very much on the Right Wing Entertainment Complex.

  7. Scott says:

    The 10 day permissive leave seems to me to be unnecessary. A lot of people go out of state to get married. Given that all are given 30 days leave per year to start, then I think that should be sufficient. Someone didn’t think that one through. I wonder if an idea to encourage commanders to allow same sex partners to take sufficient leave to get their affairs in order (and perhaps to discourage those disapproving commanders from sabotaging their troops needs) got out of hand and expanded to add 10 extra days of leave.

  8. Just Me says:

    I am not a fan of the leave-most service members who get married tend to do so in their home states closer to family.

    But providing benefits to married gay service member dependents is a no brainer.

  9. JKB says:

    But seven and ten days does seem excessive to solve this administrative inequity.

    Seems excessive to me since to satisfy their reasoning and mitigate the imposition on gays due to jurisdictional issues, the “free” leave should be only that necessary to reach to closest jurisdiction that permits gay marriage. That is those stationed in gay marriage states would get no more leave than that given to heterosexual couples. For those not in such states, they get only reasonable leave needed to reach a gay marriage locality based on distance.

    Such a policy would then be self-negating as more states legalize gay marriage. As it is, at some point we’ll hear complaints about the gay marriage benefit when such accommodation is no longer necessary and protests if in the future the DOD ties to equalize the benefits of all members regardless of sexual orientation.

  10. David in KC says:

    Note that the leave us “up to” which allows the command to evaluate he need on a case by case basis.

  11. Todd says:

    In the Air Force, there are almost 50 reasons (listed in AFI 36-3003) that a commander may authorize permissive TDY (ie., non-chargable leave). This will merely be added to that list in Section F, Paragraph 12, Table 7.

    Here are a few of the current reasons that a military (Air Force) member can get “free” leave:

    – to travel in order to repair, return, or purchase aero club aircraft – up to 10 days

    – to travel to a non-local military MTF for the removal of inappropriate tattoo – time necessary, including travel days.

    – as an applicant of a qualifying child adoption – up to 21 days

    – to participate or train in sports, recreation and talent events – up to 30 days

    In that context, I don’t see anything particularly “special” about allowing same-sex couples a week of PTDY if they have to travel out of state to legally marry.

  12. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The military was ordered to accept gays, and make it work.

    Why is it news that they’re obeying those orders?

    Because jackwads such as yourself,screamed up and down that having any of Teh Ghey in the military would ruin what made ‘Murica! ‘Murica! and leave us open to attack from the scary Moozlims.

    But your fearmongering has not – will not – come true. That’s why this is news – because you’ve been exposed, yet again, as an idiot, and now we will look upon your further pronouncements with a skeptical eye. Keep botching these predictions, and polite society eventually will ignore you.

  13. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Because jackwads such as yourself,screamed up and down that having any of Teh Ghey in the military would ruin what made ‘Murica! ‘Murica! and leave us open to attack from the scary Moozlims.

    Blow it out your ass, jackhole. I was always pretty much agnostic on the issue. I realize that it makes you uncomfortable to actually think instead of just assuming that everyone who you don’t like fits into your narrow little stereotypes, but the world isn’t obligated to cater to your small-minded prejudices.

  14. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    I can’t help but think that, if only the DoD has progressively progressed forward earlier and helped Pvt. Bradley Manning learn to enjoy his sexual dysfunction(s), all that totally unnecessary brouhaha could have been avoided. You need to realize that just because on somedays you feel like a soldier, you can still feel like a soldierette on other days.

    Oh yeah, and can anyone out there hook me up with three or four invites (so I can bring all my spouses and spousettes) to the commissioning ceremony for DoD’s inaugural “glory hole” ???

  15. An Interested Party says:

    Oh yeah, and can anyone out there hook me up with three or four invites (so I can bring all my spouses and spousettes) to the commissioning ceremony for DoD’s inaugural “glory hole” ???

    Frightened homophobes (especially ones who live in the San Francisco Bay area) are so funny…they are particularly amusing when they so openly expose all the frothy juices that are flowing through their heads…