Monday, February 11, 2013

Panetta Gives Gay Military Rights

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta makes his exit by doing the right thing & extending to nearly the full extent permitted under current law the benefits available to gay & lesbian service members & their families. Though Panetta’s announcement did not include a number of important items that could have been granted - including burial rights at national cemeteries & some overseas travel for spouses, which remain under consideration the Pentagon has done almost as much as it can with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still on the books. Allyson Robinson, Army Veteran & OutServe-SLDN Executive Director stated, “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 & equal sacrifice of our gay & lesbian service members & their families. We thank him for getting us a few steps closer to full equality - steps that will substantively improve the quality of life of gay & lesbian military families.” The package of recognition, support & benefits includes the issuance of military identification cards, access to family support initiatives & joint duty assignments. It does not address the larger issues of health care, housing & survivors’ benefits restricted by DOMA & other federal statutes. The Supreme Court is set to consider DOMA next month & is expected to issue a ruling later this year. Updates to Come…:)

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