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Friday, June 28, 2013
Full Text: DoD ‘Briefing Card’ on Same Sex Benefits
By News Release @ 12:17 AM :: 4447 Views :: Family, Military

The US Department of Defense has released the following ‘Briefing Card’ to military officers in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision invalidating parts of the Defense of Marriage Act:

DOMA / Supreme Court Hearing Briefing Card

Updated 06/26/2013

Background

Following repeal of DADT, DoD engaged in a review of the possibility of extending eligibility for benefits, when legally permitted, to same-sex domestic partners of military members. The benefits review group examined benefits available to Service members and their families; benefits were divided into three categories: (1) Currently available member-designated benefits; (2) Benefits not available based on current law; and (3) Benefits that could be extended, under current law, to same-sex domestic partners and their children.

The initial review extended 18 “member-designated” benefits. Feb. 11, Sec. Panetta identified 24 additional benefits, including two new member-designated benefits, to extend to same-sex domestic partners by August 31, 2013, but no later than October 1, 2013. The Department is currently working to extend benefits to same-sex partners and updating departmental issuances and service regulations to meet the required deadline.

March 26 and 27, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments and began reviewing two cases regarding California’s Proposition 8 and DOMA.

The Court found June 26, 2013 that in the U.S. v. Windsor case that DOMA is unconstitutional; and in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case that there was no standing.

SD Statement: "The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The Department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court's decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses - regardless of sexual orientation - as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do.

"Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so. Today's ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve."

Talking Points

· The Department will immediately begin to update the identification card issuance infrastructure and update the applicable implementing guidance. We estimate that this process will take about 6-12 weeks. For civilian employees, the Department will look to OPM for guidance. For civilian employees who are eligible for ID card related benefits, the Department intends that ID cards will be made available to same-sex spouses of civilian employees at the same-time as same-sex spouses of military members.

· The Supreme Court's ruling means that the Defense Department will extend all benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel that are currently extended to opposite-sex spouses, including medical, dental, interment at Arlington National Cemetery, and with-dependent Basic Allowance for Housing. The Department will implement these benefit changes as soon as possible for same-sex spouses.

· The policies governing burial at Arlington National Cemetery will apply equally to same-sex and opposite-sex spouses.

· We are carefully reviewing command sponsorship for overseas tours, and all applicable Status of Forces agreements.

· We will assess costs as we move forward with implementation.

· The Department is reviewing the opinion of the Supreme Court carefully, in consultation with the Department of Justice.

· We are continuing work on the implementation of the decisions that Secretary Panetta announced earlier this year. At the same time, the extent to which the DOMA ruling affects the provision of benefits to same-sex partners is an issue the Department of Defense will coordinate closely with the rest of the executive branch.

Questions & Answers

Q: Did anything change for DOD with the Court’s decision?

A: Yes. The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the Defense Department will extend benefits, including medical, dental, burial at Arlington National Cemetery, and with-dependent Basic Allowance for Housing to same-sex spouses of military personnel (whose marriages are recognized by state law).

The Department will implement these changes as soon as possible.

Also, there are 20 member-designated benefits that are already available to a person of the service member’s choosing (i.e. insurance, death gratuity, Montgomery GI Bill). You can find the list at: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0610_dadt/Benefits_Currently_Available_Approved.pdf

Q: How long will implementation take?

A: The Department will implement these new changes as soon as possible.

Q: How much will implementing these benefits cost DOD?

A: We will assess costs as we move forward with implementation.

Q: Will same-sex spouses now get ID Cards? How long will it take?

A. The Department will immediately begin to update the identification card issuance infrastructure and update the applicable implementing guidance. We estimate that this process will take about 6-12 weeks. For civilian employees’ ID cards, the Department will look to OPM for guidance. For civilian employees who are eligible for ID card related benefits, the Department intends that ID cards will be made available to same-sex spouses of civilian employees at the same-time as same-sex spouses of military members.

Q: How will this impact Government Civilians?

For civilian employees, the Department will look to OPM for guidance.

Q: How many people does this impact?

A: We do not yet have an estimate.

*** On BACKGROUND: Defense Officials stated in the February backgrounder that same-sex partners numbered approximately 5,600 active duty; 3,400 National Guard; 8,000 Retirees.

Q: What is the policy related to the Arlington Cemetery burial?

A: The policies governing burial at Arlington National Cemetery will apply equally to same-sex and opposite-sex spouses.

Q: What about overseas tours – will a same-sex spouse be able to accompany the service member on an overseas tour?

A: We are carefully reviewing this matter, and all applicable Status of Forces agreements.

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