David Badash | The New Civil Rights Movement | Feburary 5, 2013
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce this week that the Pentagon will extend benefits to gay and lesbian families, supposedly as best it can without being in conflict with DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 that bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. But the move is set to please few on either side.
“Gay rights advocates have called for benefits including housing privileges, access to base recreational facilities and joint duty assignments for couples in the military,” the Washington Post reported today:
Legal experts say, however, that the Pentagon will be unable to extend more than 100 benefits while the Defense of Marriage Act remains in place.
The new guidelines will be departing Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta’s final imprint on the armed forces. They will also come on the heels of two landmark changes undertaken under his relatively short tenure: the rescinding of the ban on openly gay service members and the decision to allow women to serve in combat units.
Military officials have struggled with the flurry of equality dilemmas that have emerged since the ban on openly gay service troops was lifted in September 2011, following congressional repeal of the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
One LGBT service members’ group sees this as a half-measured move, and baffling.