Panetta Extends Same-Sex Benefits to Military Families

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta extended Monday a host of benefits previously denied to partners and spouses of gay troops, NBC News reported. The new benefits and perks include: hospital child care services, hospital visits, and the issuing of military ID cards, which will give same-sex spouses and partners access to on-base commissaries, movie theaters and gyms. They’ll go into effect once training on the new rules is completed, Panetta said. Still, the federal Defense of Marriage Act still blocks the military from enacting 85 other benefits that heterosexual members receive, including medical and dental care, housing allowances and death benefits. Panetta said he could see “a time when the law will allow the department to grant full benefits to service members and their dependents, irrespective of sexual orientation. Until then, the department will continue to comply with current law while doing all we can to take care of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families."

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