WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – In the waning days of his tenure, outgoing Obama administration defense secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce the expansion of some military dependent benefits to the same-sex “spouses” of homosexual personnel.
The new benefits may include housing privileges, access to base recreational facilities and shopping, and joint duty assignments for same-sex couples.
At least for now, health care coverage and some other benefits will remain off-limits to homosexual couples due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman in federal law. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month about the constitutionality of the law. They are expected to rule on the issue before the end of June.
The Obama administration has continually sought to expand benefits for homosexual government employees and their partners, as the president has mounted a public campaign to increase the public’s acceptance of homosexuality.
In his inaugural address last month, President Obama reminded the nation of his support for same-sex “marriage.” Last weekend, he said that Boy Scouts of America should overturn its ban on openly gay members and leaders.
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In 2011, under pressure from Obama and gay activists, Congress repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that allowed homosexuals to serve in the military only if they kept their sexual preferences to themselves. Now that gay military personnel are able to go public with their sexuality, they have increasingly demanded full benefits for their same-sex partners.
Supporters of homosexuality in the military celebrated the Pentagon’s reported decision and said they hoped it would increase support for federal recognition of same-sex “marriages” ahead of the Supreme Court’s expected March rulings on the legality of DOMA.
“If you provide benefits to individuals seen as the most deserving and the social fabric doesn’t tear, that does make it easier down the line to do away with DOMA,” said Tammy S. Schultz, the director of the National Security and Joint Warfare Program at the Marine Corps War College. “It could be a flanking maneuver to keep chipping away at it.”
Panetta is expected to make the announcement this week, according to a U.S. official and a congressional aide who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made.
According to Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman, the Department of Defense has been conducting a “deliberative and comprehensive review of the possibility of extending eligibility for benefits, when legally permitted, to same-sex domestic partners.” However, she did not confirm or deny Panetta’s decision.