Pentagon announces benefits for lesbian, gay and bisexual military families

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today announced the Pentagon would expand some benefits to lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) military families. They include the assurance of military identification cards to LGB military families, allowing them access to military commissaries, family support programs and other services. Panetta cited the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) as the reason that full and equal benefits — notably medical/dental insurance and housing allowances — were not included. The Task Force is urging the Supreme Court —  which will hear a DOMA challenge next month — to overturn it.

You can read the secretary’s memorandum extending these benefits here.

Statement by Rea Carey, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Secretary Panetta’s announcement is encouraging and acknowledges the rightful extension of equal benefits to lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel who serve their country with as much distinction, dedication, commitment and courage as other service members. Every day they put their lives on the line, yet their families continue to be treated as ‘less than.’ Today’s announcement is an important step toward ending an un-American and hurtful practice of federally sanctioned discrimination against thousands of LGB military families who are denied equal access to the full range of benefits granted to other military families. DOMA or no DOMA, our country and its leaders can and must do better. We urge them to end this discriminatory law once and for all.