Multiple news sites reported the ‘leak’ that the Pentagon was preparing to expand the list of military benefits available to homosexuals.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has not made a final decision on which benefits will be included, the officials said, but the Pentagon is likely to allow same-sex partners to have access to the on-base commissary and other military subsidized stores, as well as some health and welfare programs.
Secretary Panetta’s proposed replacement, former Senator Chuck Hagel, has indicated he similarly supports the extension of benefits.
Some articles noted that there is a “fine legal line” to walk, since the federal government is prohibited from recognizing homosexuals as “married” — and thus granting them the benefits due only to those who are married.
How the military will walk that line will be interesting:
Officials said the military likely will require that some type of document be signed to designate the military member’s partner as a legitimate recipient of the benefits. The same-sex partners are also expected to be issued some type of identification card that would give them access to the military installations and programs.
A problem may arise if the DoD opens up this “access” only to those who are homosexual — as it would be granting special privileges to an unrecognized class.
On the other hand, it could be a potential logistical (and security) nightmare if the military grants any Tom, Dick, or Harry the right to carry an ID card and gain access to base privileges — merely because someone signs a sheet of paper.
The desire to avoid those issues is precisely why the military has a distinct requirement before granting such benefits: A military member has to be married. While it may seem “unfair” to fiancés, “serious” girlfriends, and those in polygamous, incestuous, illicit, or otherwise “unrecognized” relationships, the military has to draw the line somewhere.
How the military can move that line — and simultaneously avoid both recognizing homosexual marriages and opening the floodgates — remains to be seen.