Report: Pentagon plan would extend benefits to same-sex spouses

The Pentagon may extend benefits to same-sex spouses of service members by the end of August according to a Defense Department draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

According to the report, the proposal would scale back earlier plans to extend benefits to all gay partners of military members, limiting benefits to those couples who are married. Unmarried couples could be granted 10 days of military leave however to travel to states where they could legally marry.

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The new plan would also drop an earlier proposed requirement that same-sex couples be forced to sign a declaration form claiming they are partners. Instead, they would need to provide documents showing they are legally married.

The benefits would likely include access to healthcare, housing and military stores.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year, extending federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

“As the Supreme Court's ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded all benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the spousal and family benefits far outweigh the benefits that could be extended under a declaration system,” Hagel wrote in the Pentagon memo.

The memo is also being reviewed by the Justice Department, according to the AP.

In February, the Defense Department extended some benefits to same-sex married couples but said they were limited because of DOMA. After the high court’s ruling in June, the Pentagon said they would review their policy to extend additional benefits.