Partners of gay troops to get benefits, too?

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Maximus, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Partners of gay troops to get benefits, too?

    By Kimberly Hefling - The Associated Press
    Posted : Friday Mar 26, 2010 17:10:41 EDT

    WASHINGTON — If gay service members are allowed to serve openly, the military will face another tough question: Should gay partners be entitled to military benefits?

    Momentum appears to be building for ending the ban on gays in the military. New rules ordered Thursday by Defense Secretary Robert Gates make it harder to discharge men and women under the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell." His decision is intended as a stopgap measure as Congress weighs whether to go along with President Barack Obama's request to repeal the law.

    Since the draft ended in 1973, spousal benefits have increasingly been used as an incentive to recruit and retain an effective force. Today, more than half of all troops sport a wedding ring.

    Benefits for married service members include college tuition for a spouse and the right of a spouse to be at a wounded service member's bedside. Spouses also have access to military health care and commissaries worldwide, and married service members receive better housing and even extra pay when they go to war.

    The ticket to qualifying for those benefits is a marriage certificate. Heterosexual couples have a choice whether to marry, but same-sex marriages are legal in only five states and Washington, D.C. Whether same-sex partnerships would be recognized by the military and what benefits might be afforded gay couples would become issues if the ban were lifted.

    "It will be a whole complex row of dominoes that will fall as a result of this," said Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the conservative Family Research Council.

    Already, Gates has included the issue of benefits in a review of how to lift the repeal, which is due Dec. 1.

    Repealing the ban without offering same-sex partner benefits would be like telling gay service members they are equal but not giving them all the advantages of service, said Tiffany Belle, 33, of Long Beach, Calif., a lesbian and former sailor. "You're basically letting us be free being ourselves in the military, but then you're not letting us reap the benefits."

    The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Nathaniel Frank, a senior research fellow at the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said it's unrealistic to think the military would be out front of the rest of the government in offering benefits to unmarried partners.

    "They don't do it for straight people, and they're very unlikely to do it for gay people," Frank said.

    But, in addition to repealing "don't ask, don't tell," Obama has called for getting rid of the Defense of Marriage Act and has moved to extend some federal benefits to same-sex partners.

    Obama has approved small changes in benefits available to same-sex couples who work for the federal government, such as visitation and dependent-care rights. The State Department extended benefits to gay diplomats, such as the right for their domestic partners to hold diplomatic passports and for paid travel to and from foreign posts.

    Larry Korb, a senior fellow at the Democratic-led Center for American Progress, who served as an assistant secretary of defense in the early 1980s, said what the military would have to work through is similar to what the State Department and some federal agencies have done.

    "My own personal view is that if they want to make it happen, they can," Korb said.

    U.S. military officials are concerned that recruitment might suffer if they open the door to gay service members and their families. They worry that the Southern, Christian base from which the military relies heavily to fill its ranks will resist the change.

    But if they don't adequately address the benefits issue, it could lead to gay service members leaving the military because there's no provision for caring for their families, said Ryan Gallucci, a spokesman for the veterans group AMVETS.

    "They won't be on equal footing as their heterosexual counterparts," Gallucci said.

    Some repeal proponents say that lifting the ban should be the focus, not the what ifs related to benefits. They say discussions about whether the Pentagon would recognize gay troops' partners aren't relevant now.

    "Let's get rid of the ban first and then look at those issues," said Kevin Nix, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which seeks to repeal the law.

    Frank, who has written a book about the policy, said opponents of repeal use a "thorny questions" strategy to make the process of lifting the ban seem far more complicated than it is by bringing up issues like benefits.

    One former service member who is watching the debate is Melanie Costa, 34, of Franklin, Mass. The Iraq veteran said she left the military after four years in the Marines and six in the Army Reserves so she could marry a woman in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal. She said if the repeal is dropped she'll re-enlist — if her wife gets benefits.

    "If I got deployed, and she wasn't able to get all the benefits as another married couple, there's not really a point," Costa said.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Anne Flaherty contributed to this report
     
  2. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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  3. Emsa

    Emsa Member

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    Men like those old Generals may as well be trying to stop the tide from coming in. The change will come and soon and in thirty years time when it will not occur to anyone to suggest that gays and lesbians should not be allowed to serve openly those old Generals will be remembered with as little favor as history tends to remember those who try to hold back the future...
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I don't agree with that final sentence.


    The administration and the Dept. of Defense have a lot of things they need to work through, a lot of questions that need to be answered.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Emsa,

    I think you are assuming that they do not want to change DADT. What you should understand that they most likely do not want a repeat of DADT problems. A poorly crafted order can do more damage than any inaction, i.e. DADT. These generals have little invested personally in the outcome, because reality is they will be leaving shortly anyway. They are invested in what is overall best for the military. You are assuming they are homophobic, how do you know that they are? People assume Cheney is homophobic, but he calls Mary's spouse his Daughter In Law, and their child his grandchild. If he was so homophobic why did she work on his campaign? Sometimes personal opinions have no business in professional business. Many posters who have experienced the military life have stated the same issue regarding benefits needing to be addressed before repealing DADT. I have always shouted from the rooftops that his should be addressed. I am not homophobic in the least. It is not personal, it is business.

    I think you are confusing a moral/political stance from the realistic financial issues. They are 2 different things. Morally, yes, allow homosexuals to serve openly, realistically if we allow them to serve openly I believe it will cause issues due to benefits. Benefits in the military for a married member and a single member can tally in the thousands per yr, and that does not include things like medical coverage, Emergency leave, TA, spouse employment, moving weight allownaces, PCS per diem, etc. Look up on DFAS BAH (housing), BAS and COLA, for any rank in any zip code, and view the difference. We are not talking pennies. It will cause a firestorm the day it is repealed if we do not have an answer, especially since the State Dept allow homosexuals to gain a diplomatic passport and be placed on orders, whereas, in the military that would not occur. Want to be the homosexual that is forced to leave your spouse behind when they PCS you to Germany because DOD allows you to openly serve, but won't recognize your union, even though your HOR does?
     
  6. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    You are assuming that they want DADT to be lifted and that they are not homophobic. Some are using the issue as a smoke screen - they claim that since the benefit *issue* is too difficult to address the repeal should not happen. This way they can claim that they are not homophobic and are not "opposed" to the repeal.
    This type of logic was and is often used with women and integration of troops.
    I like your logic PIMA - we should keep DADT since it saves the military $$$$$ in saved benefit spending.

    Clearly, Gates and Co. are are addressing the issue. There really is no point in futher speculation until they lay a plan on the table.
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Hahaha, I believe this is the same "technique" they used for healthcare.... and how long has everyone waited for the table be set for the closing of GTMO, where the 9/11 conspirators would be tried...etc etc etc

    Ah, if only King George III would have been aware of that in the 1700s... :rolleyes:
     
  8. Emsa

    Emsa Member

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    LITS I will check back in with you in thirty years :smile:


    And yea the benefits argument does wear increasingly thin, if the political will exists the technicalities can be managed...
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    And as we have seen political will and popular will do not always align.

    Of course, Congress and Gates are the ones who will feel the strain of "figuring it out", the grunts at the deck plates will.

    It is also important to remember, all of the service chiefs aren't completely onboard.
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Has anyone said that the benefit *issue* is too difficult to address? Actually, what they are stating is that it is so difficult to address we should take time and do it right.

    Now that might mean in a month, 6 months or 2 yrs, but they are addressing it. Repealing DADT is as easy as a stroke of a pen by Obama. Just like repealing DOMA. Obama can do it anytime he wants. Start writing to Obama place his feet to he fire and demand that he repeal it, don't place all of the blame on the DOD or the Generals. They follow his direction!

    BTW JAM, re-read my post, I am not saying we should keep it to save money, I am saying that by repealing DADT and not acknowledging Homosexual Unions (which I am for) we are creating an injustice to the military member. We are saying, just be happy you can serve, now sit in the corner and color. When we integrated minorities and women in the military we did not say, COME ON IN, BUT OBTW your loved ones are not welcomed! That is exactly what we are saying if repeal DADT, but not acknowledge their union. If you do not realize that homosexual spouses that have a civil union from a state that recognizes them will not be suing day one, I have a great bridge to sell you in NYC.

    Heck, the problem is even more exasperated since the State Dept gives rights to homosexual unions. Where will be the defense for the military by denying homosexuals partners to travel on orders and receive housing when another branch does?
     
  11. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    "Homophobic".

    Gotta love it.

    Well, Gays are "Normalphobic" and "Moralphobic".

    Hey, if people can sling epithets around, I may as well join the fray. :rolleyes:
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Let's play a little game...you are a parent of a homosexual who is in a committed loving relationship recognized by the state. They call you up in an emotional fraught because they received orders to move to a foreign country, but their spouse cannot accompany them, not because it is a remote, but because the military will not recognize their union, i.e. no passport, no international drivers license, no health care, no housing, no job placement. Would you not be ticked at the military? Would you not say to your child, do you really want to work or die for a company that denies you the same rights as your peers?

    I sure as heck would say it to my kids! Do you not think that this mentality will seep into the morale of the unit? Trust me it will just like some enlisted members constantly remind officers that they make a million plus flight pay.

    Like I said, REPEAL, but as Obama signs the repeal I hope he signed one other EO right before it officially recognizing homosexual unions.

    BTW you can play all day long the game of $$$ in the service members pocket doesn't matter, because all it says to me is that you have never received an LES. Military members at all ranks are not Rockerfellers. The old craniums still talk about HOT CHECK FRIDAY. You don't see a lot of military parents sending their kids to private schools. Why do they live on base? Not because they are big, new and spacious, quite the contrary, most are old and small. (Have you lived with a family of 5, 3 teenagers in a 4 bdrm 1 1/2 ba, 1200 sqft home built in 1970 with linoleum floors and no garage where it snows? I have!) They live on base because it is free...another thing a homosexual in a union will be unable to get even if we recognize homosexuals openly. Start asking around AD or retired members what pay is really like, then you will start to understand how big of a deal benefits are to the military member.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  13. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Zap, I am still perplexed by you when you say things like this. Do you think all homosexual people are akin to child molesters, voyeurs, and rapists? I get it if you base your belief on religious grounds, but is it necessary to impose that on these boards if that is indeed your spiritual belief?
     
  14. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Yeah, the benefits/full blown socialism issues sure do wear increasingly thin with this current administration and their "young" ideas lol
    Seems some of us "old people" actually have been in the system (military) and have also paid a lot of taxes so, we'd like those silly little issues ironed out and not be called names for demanding due process. :shake:
     
  15. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    I surely don't need to speak for Zaphod but I'm guess he's tired, just like many of us are, with being labeled or pigeonholed by daring to discuss the issue :thumb:
     
  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I would actually veer a little off from max, by saying it gets tiresome of rehashing the same old argument that this is the same as racial integration or the integration of women. It isn't. By the time women were integrated we already had civil rights to protect their status regarding discrimination. Show me, anyone please show me where we have that same federal right regarding marital status for homosexuals.

    Decades ago when AIDS came on the scene, the true fear IMHO of not going full blown Gays can serve was based largely on that fact, not one state had marital rights, thus it would have been moot to discuss those benefits. It was incorrectly seen as a homosexual disease, and many people felt that it would cause morale issues within the military. That is how the compromise really came about. I recall Bullet being an O-3 in the UK and this was talk everywhere. It wasn't about the morality of homosexuality or a homosexual hitting on them. It was about AIDS. Things have changed, it is no longer about AIDS, but civil unions, yet one thing has remained the same, nobody believes that a homosexual is going to try to flip the heterosexual.

    Yes, there was/is the fear, like some have regarding housing a single heterosexual with a single homosexual. However, that is not the true issue. Seriously it can be easily solved for dorms, not sure about hot racking, but dorms, yes.

    The true issue about integrating homosexuals is benefits. Shake it, toss it, roll it whatever way you want. Integrating homosexuals openly serving is about benefits. Thus, by stating the big white elephant in the corner many people here claim that it is homophobic fear and not driven on facts. They are saying hey look over there, and proponents are saying OH that's nothing! Really, because the last time I checked Elephants(homosexual unions/DOMA) leave large amounts of crap (benefit lawsuits)behind them...if you don't acknowledge their existence and have a shovel ready the room is going to stink really quick!

    OBTW, what if we had gone to openly serving back in the 90's, where would we be now regarding the exact same issue of benefits? You can't say that those who come from a state that recognizes civil unions would be happily chugging along saying, I don't care if the military won't recognize my marriage. They would be fighting for it. If you agree that they would be fighting for those benefits, then you must agree that this is a valid reason to go slowly and get it right instead of making another huge mistake like DADT just to say we did something.

    How many of you live your life saying action is better than inaction when it comes to very important life changing issues? DO you just live by the belief that no bother, I can fix it later and it will be just as good or better? Or do you live your life by the motto get it done right the first time?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  17. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    PIMA, that's my position also; I couldn't give a hoot in a holler about what people do in their own home/bedroom! If 2-7% of the American population want to have a same sex marriage, have at it. Remember, that's a double edged sword :biggrin:

    What I do care about is that Obama is using the military to force a new social agenda down the throats of Americans. Don't screw around with DADT [during a war] and expect the issues to just iron out. I want Obama to make his argument and make Civil Unions legal, and then talk about changing DADT. Don't use the Military for political expediency. No carriage before the horse! Gays will be treated just like heteros, and if there is a Civil Union (or call it a marriage, I don't care) then benefits are due. Otherwise, the benefits/taxpayers will be abused.

    If people don't understand that issue, they'll continue to slinging around the 'homophobic' disparaging rhetoric to shout discussion out of the room.
     
  18. Emsa

    Emsa Member

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    Not sure about moralphobic, I know a few people of varied sexual orientations who would fit that desciption nicely. But as to normalphobic, I consider myself to be proubly normalphobic, who aspires to be normal!!
     
  19. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The norm aspire to be normal....it's the average of society.

    I think many people at some point stopped aspiring to be "weird" when they figured out it wasn't socially acceptable. At some point they ditch the
    'Be Different' and 'Weird is Cool' shirts for American Eagle flipflops and Abercrombie and Fitch shorts...
     
  20. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I am only chuckling right now because the comment from Emsa is too funny... I am on SERVICE ACADEMY FORUMS, right?

    Come on, Emsa, you are talking to people who dress like each other M-F. Seriously, do you think they want to be unique? Maybe you were being comical or maybe it was a dig at the military, but either way, I am guessing you are going to be in the minority on that thought process.
     

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