Gay groups on Friday dismissed a
Pentagon memo identifying 14 benefits that include gay service
The Defense Department released the
list as part of its ongoing review of military benefits in
connection with the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the law
that banned gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.
“We listed eight member-designated
benefits in our original Quick Reference Guide, released Sept. 20.
We've now validated an additional six,” said Defense Department
spokeswoman Eileen Lainez. “While these are not 'new,' now that
we've confirmed these additional benefits, we're updating the Quick
Reference Guide to ensure all are aware of their beneficiary
Among the benefits are listing a gay
spouse as a service member's group life insurance beneficiary, a
thrift savings plan beneficiary and a veteran's group life insurance
beneficiary. The last benefit – attendance at Yellow Ribbon
Reintegration events – became news earlier this month when New
Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen intervened in the state's National
Guard decision forbidding Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan from
including at such an event her wife, Karen Morgan.
“Unfortunately, today's announcement
does nothing to move the ball forward on the issue of providing equal
benefits, recognition, and family support for legally married gay and
lesbian families. The benefits outlined today were, in fact,
available even before the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” said
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
The new guidance comes a day after SLDN
filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging
the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as it
relates to gay service members.
“We are not advocating any special
treatment for the families of gay and lesbian service members or
veterans, but we want to underscore that all military families should
be treated the same when it comes to recognition, benefits and family
support,” Sarvis added.