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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.”
“Secretary Panetta’s decision today answers the call President Obama issued in his inaugural address to complete our nation’s journey toward equality, acknowledging the equal service and equal sacrifice of our gay and lesbian service members and their families,” said Allyson Robinson, an Army veteran and executive director of OutServe-SLDN (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network), in a statement.
Pentagon officials say they will continue to review benefits, including housing and burial in the nation’s military cemeteries.
For the newest benefits, the services are expected to provide an implementation plan to the Pentagon within the next 60 days.
The rules are expected to begin going into effect between August and October of this year.