Dept. of Defense Plans to Extend Military Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

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The Department of Defense plans to expand it military benefits to same-sex couples, according to multiple defense reports.

Benefits extended to same-sex spouses will include access to military bases, commissaries and family services. Joint-duty assignments, where spouses are assigned to the same location if possible, will also be extended to same-sex couples.

The expansion will not include family housing, health benefits and higher housing allowances for those with dependents. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, thus limiting some benefits.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce the changes later this week.

The change marks one of the first major expansions following the 2011 repeal of "Don't' Ask, Don't Tell" which cleared the way for openly gay people to serve in the military.

The move comes after weeks of controversy following the rejection of a same-sex spouse's application to an officer's spouses' organization. The Pentagon said it would not require such groups to admit same-sex spouses, however, the spouse's group later relented and offered the officer's spouse full membership.

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