The Department of Defense announced a plan Wednesday to extend a range of federal benefits to same-sex spouses of military service members starting Sept. 3.
The Pentagon will extend to legally married same-sex couples the same privileges and programs that are provided to legally married heterosexual couples, including benefits tied to health care, housing, and family separation allowance, compensation paid to military members when their dependents can't live with them at their permanent duty station.
"The Department of Defense remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs," the Pentagon said in its announcement Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a senior official told NBC News that service members who are stationed in one of the 37 states where same-sex marriage is illegal will be offered up to 10 days of leave so they can travel to one of the 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, that grant same-sex marriage licenses.
Wednesday's announcement made no specific mention of the 10 days of leave, but did say, "We recognize that same-sex military couples who are not stationed in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage would have to travel to another jurisdiction to marry. That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of travelling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur."
All entitlements are retroactive to June 26, 2013, the date of the Supreme Court's ruling that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is unconstitutional.
NBC's Daniel Arkin contributed to this report.
First published August 14 2013, 8:58 AM
Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News
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