Same-sex married couples in military get benefits expanded - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Same-sex married couples in military get benefits expanded

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The defense department has confirmed that benefits will be extended to same-sex couples. The changes are set to be announced on Wednesday and with strong ties to both groups the plan means a lot to a community like the Charleston area.

Defense officials say it's just allowing the basic privileges every other military member has. It was the Supreme Court ruling in June striking down the Defense of Marriage Act that pushed the military benefit issue forward.

Local board member for the AFFA or Alliance for Full Acceptance, Kelley Doherty says it was the obvious next move. "The Defense department is simply saying these people are a part of our military and we need to treat them in the same way we would treat any married couple, so the time has come."

The Pentagon plans to extend to legally married same-sex couples the same privileges and programs that are provided to legally married, heterosexual couples, including benefits tied to health care and housing. And for an area like Charleston, where gay pride and military strength cohabitate Doherty says it makes all the more special.

I think this is huge for a city like Charleston. Obviously with our military presence here there is a great gay community here. This is huge, you are a part of this and the equality is starting to happen."

Defense officials also say that service members who are stationed in the 37 states where same-sex marriage is illegal will be give up to 10 days of leave to travel to the 13 states, and the District of Columbia that grant same-sex marriage licenses.

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