Hours after the Supreme Court ruling, the Pentagon announced that it would move to quickly extend all benefits given to opposite sex spouses to same-sex couples including medical, dental and housing allowances.
Defense officials also said that same sex spouses would have the same rights to be buried alongside war veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“The Department of Defense, will move very swiftly, expeditiously, on implementing the law, the decision of the Supreme Court,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “We think it’s the right decision, and we’re looking forward to taking that decision and implementing the required next steps.”
The Pentagon also said within six to 12 weeks same-sex spouses will be give official identification cards that will entitle them to equal access to military bases, child care programs, military commissaries, gyms and other facilities open to military families.
One issue that could take longer to resolve is overseas tours. In some countries, like Germany and Japan, military service members are allowed to bring spouses with them. Defense officials said they are going to have to review local laws and bilateral military protection agreements with all countries before allowing same-sex spouses to accompany service members.
A defense official said the intent is to ensure equal treatment of same-sex spouses, but the department must ensure that gay family members have the same protections when travelling overseas.
Officials said they couldn’t immediately say how much equalizing benefits will cost the department.
“The Joint Chiefs have been very clear that we’ll follow the law of the land, and the law of the land has just changed, and we will now as quickly as possible assess what that means,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I’m sure there will be some cost, but we’ll figure it out because we’ll follow the law of the land.”