Mark Udall, who helped lead the effort to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the U.S. Department of Defense's announcement today that it will extend some benefits to same-sex couples.
"The extension of benefits to the same-sex partners of our men and women in uniform is an important and welcome development at the Department of Defense. This move, spearheaded by Secretary Leon Panetta, brings our military several steps closer to full equality for all who serve," Udall said. "Although Congress still has work to do, including repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, today's announcement strengthens our armed forces and ensures that all military spouses will have the support they need and benefits they've earned."
The benefits, which will be available to same-sex military spouses and partners no later than Oct. 1, 2013, include:
Dependent ID cards, base access, and access to military exchanges, commissaries and Defense Department family programs;
Hospital visitation privileges;
The ability to be listed as a life insurance beneficiary;
The ability to be the primary next of kin;
Membership in Family Readiness Groups and support organizations;
Eligibility for joint-duty assignments; and,
The ability to take emergency leave for the illness or death of a same-sex partner.
A series of benefits for same-sex military spouses, including on-base housing, burial at national cemeteries, housing allowances and TRICARE eligibility, depend on the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Udall helped lead the Senate's push to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and has vocally supported repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, whose constitutionality the U.S. Supreme Court is considering.