US: Pentagon set to extend benefits to gay service members

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Reports suggest that that the Pentagon is to extend some benefits to same-sex partners of gay service members.

Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, is set to extend some benefits, a decision which comes sixteen months after the repeal of the Pentagon’s ban on openly gay service. The final decision on which benefits would be offered was not confirmed.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the ban on openly gay people serving in the US military, was repealed on 20 September 2011, amidst warnings that the US military would be aversely affected by the change.

The reports form the Associated Press said that it was likely that the Pentagon was likely to “allow same-sex partners to have access to the on-base commissary and other military subsidized stores, as well as health and welfare programs.”

A study released in September revealed that the repeal of the ban on openly gay people serving in the US military, one year on, had no negative impact.

Officials also suggested that it was likely that some type of official document would need to be signed, in order to confirm the service member’s partner as a legitimate recipient of the benefits.

The AP reported that the Pentagon Officials giving the information did so anonymously because they were not yet authorised to do so publicly.

The Pentagon recently backed army leaders at a North Carolina base who chose not to intervene in the case of the wife of a lesbian service member who was denied admittance into a spouses’ club, citing that discrimination laws did not extend to sexual orientation. 

The wife of the lesbian soldier who was denied membership to Fort Bragg’s spouses club was later invited to become a full member, hours after winning the base’s “Spouse of the Year” award.