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Pentagon offers limited benefits to same-sex partners of US troops

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There are also a handful of other benefits that, while legal, would likely be unpopular within the ranks, and the Pentagon has also declined to extend them. Most notable among those benefits is housing. Senior defense officials said they would study the possibility, but make no decisions at this time.

Housing "is not off the table,” said a senior defense official, who briefed reporters at the Pentagon Monday on the condition of anonymity. The official added that he did not believe extending housing benefits to same-sex couples would “violate any of the statutes” that address DOMA.

Among troops, particularly because base housing is in limited supply, “it’s a very sensitive issue,” the same official said. 

This was a key reason the Pentagon decided not to include it in the package of new benefits now available to same-sex partners. “It can be perceived as unfair – that’s a concern,” the official said. 

“It’s really nice that the Pentagon reaches out to service members to get their opinions on things, but it shouldn’t be a reason to deny services,” says Greg Jacob, policy director for the Service Women’s Action Network. “Yes, base housing is scarce, but if you qualify for the housing, you should be put on the list for the housing.” 

To receive the new benefits announced by the Pentagon Monday, same-sex partners will not need to be legally married by a state that permits same-sex marriage. Instead, they will be required to fill out a two-page legal form that affirms that two people “are each other’s sole domestic partner, in a committed relationship, and intend to remain so indefinitely.”

Gay rights advocacy groups hailed the decision. Although the Pentagon “did not include a number of important items that could have been granted” – including burial rights at national cemeteries and some overseas travel for spouses – one military gay rights advocacy group called the move “substantive.”

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