“When that bill reaches my desk, I will sign it, and this discriminatory law will be repealed. Gay and lesbian service members — brave Americans who enable our freedoms — will ,” “The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one.”
The Obama administration has directed officials to recognize same-sex partners as family members
“The UNHCR recommended that the U.S. consider family unity principles in exercising the public interest exception, including “de facto” family members, family members without pending legal status and same-sex partners.64”
“With regard to using the public interest exception to recognize common-law or same-sex partnerships without other relevant public interest considerations, U.S. federal law precludes the use of the term “spouse” to refer to same-sex partnerships 67. ”
Feb. 11, 2013 Department of Defense Secretary Panetta Signs Memo Extending Benefits to Same-sex Partners
High court strikes down federal marriage provision
6/26/13 By MARK SHERMAN | Associated Press – 3 mins 4 secs ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.
Same-sex marriage has been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia. Another 18,000 couples were married in California during a brief period when same-sex unions were legal there.
The court has yet to release its decision on California’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” Kennedy said.
“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he said.
He was joined by the court’s four liberal justices.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
June 28, 2013
Statement by the President on the Extension of Federal Employee Benefits
Today my Administration announcedthat, for the first time in history, we will be making important federal employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement benefits, available to eligible married gay and lesbian couples and their families.
This is a critical first step toward implementing this week’s landmark Supreme Court decisiondeclaring that all married couples –gay and straight — should be treated equally under federal law. Thousands of gays and lesbians serve our country every day in the federal government. They, and their spouses and children, deserve the same respect and protection as every other family.
Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, we will continue to move as quickly as possible to fully implement the Court’s decision.
Hagel: States Refusing Same-sex Family Benefits Must Comply
Oct. 31, 2013 By Karen Parrish – American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau to meet with the adjutants general of nine states to resolve the issue of those states denying ID cards to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities.
In a speech at the 100th annual Anti-Defamation League in New York tonight, Hagel said the adjutants general will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and Defense Department policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.
DOD last month began providing same-sex spouse benefits for military members and eligible civilian employees, following the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
“We did it because everyone who serves our country in uniform … should receive the full benefits they earned, fairly and in accordance with the law,” the secretary said tonight. “Everyone’s rights must be protected.”
A senior defense official speaking on background said that on Aug. 15, Pentagon officials issued a communication noting the system was updated and that ID cards to same-sex spouses were to be issued by all ID card processing stations starting Sept. 3. The official noted that nine states — Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia — are denying equal access for same-sex spouses and are violating DOD and service-level policies for administering same-sex couple and family benefits.
“Secretary Hagel expects these nine states to resolve this issue,” the official said. “He is prepared to take further action should the states not come into compliance with DOD policy.”
In his remarks in New York, Hagel said the denial of ID cards at National Guard facilities unnecessarily forces couples to travel to federal facilities.
“Not only does this violate the states’ obligations under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to,” he said. “This is wrong. It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DOD has fought to extinguish.”
The secretary emphasized that members of the National Guard serve their states and the nation and deserve to be treated accordingly.
“Whether they are responding to natural disasters here at home in their states or fighting in Afghanistan, our National Guardsmen all wear the uniform of the United States of America,” he said. “They are serving this country. They – and their families – are entitled to all the benefits and respect accorded to all of our military men and women.”
Release No: NR-272-15
July 13, 2015 dod.gov
Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on DOD Transgender Policy
Over the last fourteen years of conflict, the Department of Defense has proven itself to be a learning organization. This is true in war, where we have adapted to counterinsurgency, unmanned systems, and new battlefield requirements such as MRAPs. It is also true with respect to institutional activities, where we have learned from how we repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” from our efforts to eliminate sexual assault in the military, and from our work to open up ground combat positions to women. Throughout this time, transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms.
The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions. At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.
Today, I am issuing two directives to deal with this matter. First, DoD will create a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. Led by (Acting) Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson, and composed of military and civilian personnel representing all the military services and the Joint Staff, this working group will report to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work. At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified. Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.
As I’ve said before, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military’s future strength depends on it.