Report: Pentagon to extend same-sex spousal benefits

The Pentagon will extend some benefits to the same-sex spouses of military personnel, with an announcement planned for later this week, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Gay-rights groups have pressed for spousal housing privileges, access to base recreational facilities, and joint duty assignments for homosexual couples in the military in the wake of the move to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." It's unclear if all or some of these benefits will be extended in the announcement, or how the government will be permitted to do so under the Defense of Marriage Act.

That 1996 law defines marriage as the union of one man and woman for federal purposes, including insurance and Social Security benefits and tax breaks.

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Still, activists say there are numerous steps that the Obama administration could take without violating the law. Those could include offering gay spouses access to military identification cards available to the families of service members and support programs offered to those with loved ones serving abroad.

The White House has said repeatedly that officials hope to "expeditiously" address the concerns of gay couples in the military, although it had not thus far provided a timetable for the changes.

"The president’s positions on these issues are clear and he continues to intend to make progress on them, as he made clear in his inaugural," White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier this month.

Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel was also asked about the issue during his confirmation hearing last week, where he pledged to do “everything possible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.”

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