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Gay military spouses to get more benefits

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) — Same-sex spouses may soon get some of the U.S. military benefits now granted heterosexual wives and husbands, officials say.

The Defense Department is expected to make an official announcement this week, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Officials who did not want their names used would not specify which benefits can be extended to gay and lesbian couples without violating the Defense of Marriage Act.

Homosexuals have been able to serve openly in the military since Congress repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2011. With gay marriage now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, the Pentagon has to reconcile DOMA, which denies federal recognition to gay couples, with service members legally married to same-sex spouses.

Allyson Robinson, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, an organization advocating for gays in the military, said the result is “a two-tiered system regarding how they treat the haves and have-not families.”

“It’s an untenable leadership situation,” she said.

Advocates say gay spouses should be able to get some benefits, including military ID cards that would give them access to recreation facilities and other amenities on bases.

A decision to refuse membership in a spouses’ organization to the wife of a female lieutenant colonel was recently reversed. The colonel’s wife, Ashley Broadway, was also named Fort Bragg Spouse of the Year by Military Spouse magazine.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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