Pentagon to Extend Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses
Panetta announcement expected this week
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2013 12:54 AM CST
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta kisses her girlfriend of two years, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell after Gaeta's ship returned from 80 days at sea.    (AP Photo/Virginian-Pilot, Brian J. Clark, File)

(Newser) – In another big step forward for gay rights in the military, the Pentagon is planning to extend certain benefits to the same-sex partners of military personnel. The new benefits are expected to include housing benefits and access to facilities like spouses' clubs, but many more benefits will be out of reach for same-sex military spouses while the federal Defense of Marriage Act remains in place, reports the Washington Post. Officials say that outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hasn't made a final decision on what benefits will be involved yet, but an announcement will come in the next few days, the AP reports.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on DOMA's constitutionality in June and gay rights advocates believe the Pentagon's latest move could help the case for repeal. "If you provide benefits to individuals seen as the most deserving and the social fabric doesn’t tear, that does make it easier down the line to do away with DOMA," says the director of the National Security and Joint Warfare Program at the Marine Corps War College.