WASHINGTON — An internal posting by the Pentagon this week announced that "same-sex domestic partners" should be able to begin receiving military benefits and identification cards on September 1.
The notice, posted internally without a public announcement, was reported first by The Washington Times Friday afternoon. The Times notes, "The dependents' ID cards will entitle partners to scores of benefits, as outlined by then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in a February policy decision."
The Army National Guard publicly displayed a portion of this information, noting:
The Department of Defense extended benefits and issuance of ID cards to same-sex domestic partners (SSDPs) with the release of Secretary Panetta's Memorandum dated 11 February 2013, Subject: Extending Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Military Members.
The Defense Manpower Data Center is committed to upgrading DEERS/RAPIDS so that eligible SSDPs and their families can begin receiving benefits/ID cards on 1 September 2013.
A further "S1NET Message regarding SSDP to Receive Benefits/ID Cards," however, requires a log-in to read.
Defense Department spokesman Nate Christensen referenced former Defense Secretary Panetta's earlier memorandum laying out the partner-benefits changes — which are limited by the Defense of Marriage Act's ban on recognition of same-sex couples' marriages — but did not clarify anything further about the Sept. 1 date, telling BuzzFeed only, "We're on track to meet the deadlines as laid out in then Secretary Panetta's Feb. 11. Memo."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has since taken the reins at the Pentagon, and the announced implementation of Panetta's plans was met with support from LGBT advocates.
OutServe-SLDN spokesman Zeke Stokes told BuzzFeed, "We know there is much more to be done, but this certainly represents an important step toward achieving equality for gay and lesbian military families. We applaud Secretary Hagel and his team for making this commitment made by former Secretary Panetta a reality."
The plans likely would be changed should the Supreme Court rule that the federal definition of marriage in DOMA is unconstitutional.