DoD: Gay Spouses to Get Some Military Benefits

rows of $100 bills

The Pentagon will this week announce a plan to give some benefits to gay military spouses, according to this story in the Washington Post.

While there are no details on just what benefits will be included in the roll-out, it is pretty easy to guess which ones will not be: anything requiring registration as legally a married spouse in DEERS.

That’s because the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Until that law has been repealed or altered, gay spouses will not be viewed as legal married by the federal government, of which the Defense Department is an extension.

Cmdr. Leslie Helryde, a DoD spokeswoman, told us she has no details on exactly what benefits gay spouses can expect. Most of the benefits available under current policy are available only after a servicemember has been seriously injured or killed. (Go here to see what those are). And the Post story says that lawyers have identified at least 100 benefits that spouses will not be able to receive because of DOMA.

So what can gay spouses likely expect? Without official input from DoD, this is our best guess in a variety of categories:

Base access: Yes. Because holding an ID card does not require marriage (example: designated care givers have IDs), we guess that this will be allowed.

Commissary/PX use: Yes. In the past any ID card holder, including designated care givers, could use the commissary. The newly extended benefits will likely include this.

MWR: Yes. Same as the commissary/PX.

Housing allotments or access to base housing: No. Because housing allowances/access to base housing is linked to being married (with an exception for single servicemembers who have children), this is unlikely to be extended.

TRICARE or any health benefits: No. Same reason as base housing.

Gay military support organizations such as Out Serve-SLDN have said that anything less than a full extension of benefits is a breach of civil rights. But we see this as a step in the right direction. What do you think?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Rosalee

    Although the feds recognize homosexual service in the military, they still do not
    recognize homosexual marriage.

    • Nraddin

      The military can’t because the defense of marriage act pushed through by the GOP is still on the books. Essentially the Fed in general is legally barred from considered gay marriages, despite the equal protection clause of the constitution apparently.

      • Chris

        Signed By President Bill Clinton who spoke very highly of it as he signed it into law.

      • Luke

        Name this community if you please….

        And no, I made no choice to be gay; it happened completely naturally: at age 14 my cousin started to notice girls, I started to notice boys… choice involved whatsoever. Further, they would only disrupt something if what was already going on was Discriminatory to begin with; so unless there was no discrimination, your lamentations are empty.

        • Luke

          You still haven’t named that community…..

          I made no choice; growing up in a household run by a VERY homophobic man, where such a choice would have been near suicidal; why would I have Chosen to be gay?

          You sound like one of two people: in here for the glory and frak everyone else, or in here to muck up everything. Given the last two threads on here related to this subject had someone going around claiming to be gay and saying its a choice(whereas EVERY SINGLE gay person I’ve met says its not), I am inclined to believe the latter.

          But point of logic: Why would someone choose to be something that is reviled by such a vocal group? Why would someone Choose to be something that can get them discriminated against, imprisoned in some places, beaten in others, or even Killed in some(Iran for example)?

          • Luke

            Strike the community part; misread your handle.

      • Luke

        DOMA is also Unconstitutional; it Violates Article IV of the U.S. Constitution outright; the Full Faith and Credit Clause; it can only be struck down as such.

        So, tell me, what’s “Just” about allowing states to ignore their commitments, as required by the Constitution?

  • Luke

    Step by step.

  • RGP

    All this hoopla for 2% of the population. Reference Masters & Johnson and University of Chicago Opinion Research Center.

    • Luke

      Bad reference; they supported Conversion Therapy, one of the most discredited practices in psychiatric circles. Look into Kinsey’s work, or the recent Google studies; 10% is more accurate.

      2% is still 6 Million people; 30 Million at 10%; either way, its an injustice to deny them Equal Protection.

      • RGP
        • Luke

          Their location on the political spectrum is irrelevant; their actions are; I found references to their support of Conversion Therapy, thus their conclusions are suspect.

          Kinsey suspected 10% was an accurate representation; recent studies of Google records show the number is much closer to 10%. Source:

    • randy

      How many straight married troops are actually gay? There’s more gays acting straight (I’m one of them) than you could possibly comprehend.

      • Robby D

        Randy, if your really Gay and in the service, tell me what your service branch, job in that service, and the correct way to puncuate your rank and unit.

  • mel

    Is there a reason why this article was put on here before anything official is released about the actual benefits they will be allowed to receive? Could it be for the drama? Spousebuzz, I wonder why you keep letting Amy put this crap out. Guesses about what will happen? There is no way you all are surprised by the comments. It’s all the same for every article that discusses any issues related to gays in the military. One says it’s against the rules in the bible. Another says it’s no big deal. Then you have the gay person trying to shock everyone and I still can’t figure out what he/she is trying to accomplish with that. And then we have the gay is a choice debate. This article is not putting forward actual facts and it’s just a method to stir the pot.

    • mel

      This whole gays in the military debate is getting old. The government says they can serve openly, the government is going to give them some military benefits. What do you think is going to be accomplished by all this griping. Things won’t change unless the government wants them to change. Instead of creating overplayed drama why not wait for the next election and actually vote for people whose beliefs are more closely aligned with your own. For those of you who can’t accept what the government is doing, get out of the military community or suck it up.

      • mel

        Also, I searched the word gay and found 12 articles directly related to issues with gays in the military. Out of those 12, Amy was the author of 9. Since Amy is not gay and not an expert on being gay in the military, I wonder why she is drawn to write on this topic so much or is this a case of getting a rush off the resulting drama. I have not garnered much insight from her handling of this topic or from the same old arguments that commence once an article is posted. Does Spousebuzz determine an article’s success by the number of comments it receives?

        • Rquick

          While I’m sure clicks and traffic play a large part I don’t begrudge Amy I like the fact that she keeps posting about gay military news. Shes not letting it fall to the wayside. The more posts and more people who are informed the better and real change can maybe happen then. So please Amy keep it up!

    • jacey_eckhart

      Mel–you are one of our favorite posters because you always hold us to a standard. Here is the thing about the gay spouse news: One one hand, this issue about gays in the military has been like an iceberg. For years it was frozen solid–.there was hardly any movement on the topic. Then over the last year or so, it’s been like bits of the iceberg have been breaking off. Over the last month, chunks of iceberg are crashing off–gays admitted to spouse clubs, the Marine Corps issuing straight instructions on including gays, a lesbian spouse voted spouse of the year at one installation, and sadly, sadly so incredibly sadly, the first known widow (and wasn’t her mother-in-law AMAZING???).

      So all this happens and Amy–being our blogger who follows the news closer than any of us–has been reporting each chunk of the story as it occurs. Which is a good thing in a lot of ways.

      On the other hand, you aren’t the only reader who has wondered if this is the new Gay SpouseBuzz. We’re all about the love around here so we are happy to report on inclusion. But I did the math on the number of stories that we do compared to the number of possible gay spouses and it has really been out of whack (as you so rightly noted.)

      So then this most recent story gets reported by the WAshington Post. Do we ignore it? It plunges right up next to DOMA. It is about half the things we hear about from gay and lesbian spouses. Then again, we get all those ugly posts from people who do not appear to be military spouses. That isn’t what we are about at all.

      We talk about this stuff all the time, Mel. That is why we really value the contributions of our readers. And when we hear from frequent commenters like you, it makes a difference.

      • mel

        I believe that the story about giving them benefits should have been put out after official word about what benefits will be provided. Everyone is getting their panties in a twist about what could be instead of what actually is. Considering that you all are not a tabloid, I think this story could have waited until there were actual facts.

  • John Murray

    Bottom line here is that providing any federal benefits to a gay spouse is currently illegal. Federal law says it does not recognize gay marriage therefore the federal government cannot give benefits to a gay spouse that the government doesn’t recognize as such. Until DOMA is changed or repealed that’s the law.

  • Pennydove

    I am beyond outraged at this, but sadly, not at all suprised. Retirees are slowly getting our benefits taken away- especially medical- because supposedly the “country can’t afford it”. But suddenly we can afford to start handing out benefits to gays? It will only be a matter of time before they get Tricare. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of retirees who EARNED their medical benefits will be getting letters this spring kicking them off of Tricare Prime just because they live more than 40 miles from a base. Where is the outrage over that??

    • Rquick

      Why do we have to pit one against the other? Gay people arent to blame for this .They deserve the same rights as other spouses as they’ve put in the same time as the rest of us. Being outraged about both is perfectly fine one doesent have to choose which one to be mad about. And if your outraged over retirees then write a post about it and submit it you spousebuzz yourself.

      • Pennydove

        I HAVE posted about this… see, your attitude is the one I can’t stand. As long as it’s not you getting the shaft, then who cares, right? Not your problem, right? The FIRST ones who should be looked after are those of us who already gave decades of service and counted on medical care to be there.

        • Amy_Bushatz

          Pennydove — I think Rquick meant write about it for a blog post for the site, not as a comment. We are happy to consider all submissions!

  • Rquick

    Good lord can we just get rid of DOMA already. This is embarrassing!

    • Karen

      Oh yeah… and some of the comments here have made me cringe.

  • mgarcia

    what if you are in the military and on a base that is in a state that has legalized gay marriage can you have the same housing benifits as any other couples in the military?

  • Amy_Bushatz

    Under current law, no. Because military bases are federal lands, they do not abide by state laws. Until federal law recognizes gay marriage, the DoD will not issue housing or other monetary benefits for gay families.