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Fort Gordon soldiers support Pentagon move same-sex couples' benefits

Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 9:03 PM
Last updated Friday, Aug 9, 2013 12:52 AM
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As the Pentagon moves to extend some benefits to the same-sex spouses of military members but reverse an earlier plan to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married, local gay soldiers say the decision makes the most sense for creating a more equal military.

According to a draft U.S. Defense Department memo obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, top defense leaders would reverse an earlier plan that would have allowed same-sex partners of military members to sign a declaration form saying they are committed partners to receive limited benefits, such as access to military stores and some health and welfare programs.

Instead, the memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the department may provide up to 10 days of leave to military personnel to travel to a state that allows same-sex marriage so they can marry legally.

Staff Sgt. Karyl Holliday, who is stationed at Fort Gordon, said he’d rather have the revised plan now that the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed in June extending federal benefits to same-sex married couples.

Gay couples should not be able to get benefits for being in a committed relationship and not legally married if straight couples cannot, said Holliday, who has been dating a same-sex partner for nine months.

“That’s no different than a straight couple. We’re asking for equal rights, not special privileges,” he said.

Hagel said in the memo that the Supreme Court decision extending federal benefits eliminated the need for the plan involving a declaration form.

First Lt. Jonathan Roman, also at Fort Gordon, said requiring couples to be married levels the playing field with straight couples. The document could have caused problems with couples falsifying relationships to get benefits, he said.

“I feel it’s a fine move. It might even cut down on any fraudulent relationships,” Roman said.

When the Pentagon announced in February the extension of some benefits to same-sex partners, not including housing, officials said the issue would be revisited if the Supreme Court ruled on DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing any marriage other than that between a man and a woman.

“As the Supreme Court’s ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded all benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the spousal and family benefits far outweigh the benefits that could be extended under a declaration system,” Hagel wrote.

According to unnamed Pentagon officials who spoke to the AP, the memo is under legal review by the Justice Department, and the Pentagon will not be able to take action until that review is finished.

Roman said same-sex soldiers are eager to get benefits and are patiently waiting for the Pentagon to make its decision, perhaps by the end of August.

“We’ve waited years for this,” Roman said. “What’s another three or four weeks?”

Associated Press reports were used in this article.

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Dixieman
15999
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Dixieman 08/09/13 - 06:26 am
3
1
One-sided story

AC: Couldn't find anyone to quote in opposition? Journalism 101? Just two gay soldiers and no one to speak out against this?

I do realize they would have to remain anonymous as it is career suicide in today's politically correct military not to support this misguided sociological experiment, but surely one opposing voice could have been found to add some balance to this story.

GiantsAllDay
9865
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GiantsAllDay 08/09/13 - 01:28 am
3
1
Dixieman, I don't work for

Dixieman, I don't work for the AC but I think the reason why is that quoting people who are in opposition has NOTHING to do with the story. Journalism 1A. SCOTUS has ruled and it is the law of the land. The military is following the law. It matters not to the SCOTUS and the military if people are in opposition to the law of the land, hence the format of the article. Of course anyone is allowed to voice thier opposition to existing law. Hey, I just had an idea; how about the comments section? Anyway, there is one bit of sad news to this article. Certain men and women who serve our our country and defend its freedoms have to travel many many miles just to get married. Human beings are evolving, little by little. As with all other species, there are those that will be left behind.

corgimom
34215
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corgimom 08/09/13 - 04:42 am
0
2
I don't see a problem with

I don't see a problem with this policy.

Dixieman
15999
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Dixieman 08/09/13 - 06:30 am
3
1
Couple things

1. I did not say I was opposed to gay marriage, just wanted balanced journalism.
2. The Supreme Court ruling was a narrow, technical one. The issue is still a new, hot one and opposing voices should be heard. I'm a big free speech fan.
3. 40-45% of Americans still oppose gay marriage. Don't they get a voice any more?

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 08/09/13 - 06:57 am
0
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When it comes to civil
Unpublished

When it comes to civil rights, those naysayers don't get the same pull. Luckily parts of our country and government are finally progressing and areas like the south will just have to deal with it.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 08/09/13 - 07:57 am
1
1
Who says it has to be

Who says it has to be balanced? Why should the AC have to present an opposing point of view?

People can oppose gay marriage all they want. They can oppose it by not marrying members of the same sex. Nobody forces anybody to marry anybody.

I am opposed to young teenagers getting married while still in high school. Do I get to impose my views on other people? No, I do not.

blh
45
Points
blh 08/09/13 - 08:09 am
1
0
the issue

is not knowing the difference between journalism and editorializing. If you want to debate the "law" then write the editorial page, where you will get plenty of opposing points of view.

fatherinevans
239
Points
fatherinevans 08/09/13 - 08:15 am
1
1
what a bunch of crap

this government cant even take care of our vets and enlisted people, now they want to add something that is clearly against what this country was founded on. I have nothing against people that choose to be gay but I do have a problem having my taxes paying for their misguided experiment as it was put above.

palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 08/09/13 - 10:51 am
1
0
Against what this country was
Unpublished

Against what this country was founded on? You mean like freedom and equal rights??

Sweet son
10753
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Sweet son 08/09/13 - 12:38 pm
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0
Go Figure!

corgimom is for it!

corgimom
34215
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corgimom 08/09/13 - 01:40 pm
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Corgimom would far rather pay

Corgimom would far rather pay for benefits for married, committed same-sex couples than to watch all the soldiers shack up with the girlfriends, see all the marriages that were done strictly so that the girlfriend could get military benefits and have free babies, and see all the foreign brides who wanted to come to the Land of the Big PX, and who no more loves and cares about their spouse than my dog Toby cares about Daffy Duck.

You are talking to the wrong person, Sweet son.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 08/10/13 - 02:38 pm
0
0
"Couldn't find anyone to quote in opposition?"
Unpublished

Maybe the only opposition is ... you ?
The military seems to have no problems with the policy.

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