Pentagon finally extends spousal benefits to same-sex military couples

The new plan will go into effect in September

Published August 14, 2013 7:58PM (EDT)

The Department of Defense announced on Wednesday a plan to extend spousal benefits to married gay couples beginning this fall.

Starting in September, married same-sex couples will receive the same benefits and privileges as opposite-sex couples, like health care, housing, family leave and compensation for their dependents.

"It is now the department's policy to treat all married military personnel equally," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in memo Wednesday.

Service members must be legally married to receive the benefits, so gay couples (or straight couples, for that matter) who may not want to tie the knot are ineligible. The Pentagon had previously been discussing a plan to extend these benefits to unmarried partners, but that plan has since been dropped, according to Fox News.

And members of the military who do not live or are not stationed in one of the 13 states that recognize gay marriage will be allowed to take leave to travel to a state that does.

"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," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, told Fox News.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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