Now that the Supreme Court has overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon is reviewing a plan that would extend full marriage benefits to same-sex couples by the end of this month, according to a draft memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlining the proposal obtained yesterday by the AP. In the process, the Defense Department would ditch a previous plan that would have allowed unmarried same-sex couples access to some limited benefits after signing a declaration form.
Now, troops will actually need to be legally married to get the benefits, but the military will give them 10 days of leave so they can travel to a state where gay marriage is legal and tie the knot. In the memo, Hagel says that the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously agreed that "the spousal and family benefits far outweigh the benefits that could be extended under a declaration system." A source tells the AP the Justice Department is reviewing the memo, and that the Pentagon can take action once that is complete.