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 Until that law has been repealed or altered, gay spouses will not be viewed as legal married by the federal government, of which the Defense Department is an extension.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.

9 Comments on "DoD: Gay Spouses to Get Some Military Benefits"

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

  2. Step by step.

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

  4. 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.

  5. John Murray | February 6, 2013 at 7:24 am |

    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.

  6. 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??

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

  8. 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?

  9. Amy_Bushatz | March 25, 2013 at 7:00 am |

    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.

Comments are closed.