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How Supreme Court DOMA Ruling Affects Same-Sex Military Couples

Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack, her wife Ashley Broadway, and their children.
Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack, her wife Ashley Broadway, and their children.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision today to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act clears a pathway for same-sex military couples to receive the same benefits as heterosexual married military couples.

DOMA has been used by both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to guide decisions on what kind of federal benefits to offer the domestic partners and spouses of gay troops and veterans.

By striking down the law that defined marriage as a union between heterosexual couples, the Supreme Court has opened the door for same-sex military couples to receive more than 100 benefits, according to The Army Times...

...[S]ome of them with large financial benefits, such as coverage under the military health care program, paying for a spouse to accompany a service member on a permanent change of station move, and housing allowances — or on-base housing — on the same basis as other couples.

Same-sex partners and spouses of military service members won't automatically start receiving the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. But retired Army colonel and former JAG officer Lisa Windsor told Stars and Stripes she anticipates a smooth transition:

“The ball is already rolling. This is just a natural progression of the repeal of 'don’t ask, don’t tell.' They’ve already gone ahead and said you can have an ID, have access on post, it’s not a stretch [to extend all the benefits]."