(CNSNews.com) - Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has unilaterally issued a directive stating that the U.S. military will now extend certain benefits to unmarried domestic partners that were formerly reserved for married couples—but will only do so if the domestic partners certify in writing to the Department of Defense that they are of the same sex.
Heterosexual unmarried partners do not qualify for the benefits—and thus are treated unequally by Panetta’s directive on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Panetta issued his directive in a Feb. 11 memorandum to the secretaries of the military departments and the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. The subject line on the memo said: “Extending benefits to same-sex domestic partners of military members.”
“At the direction of the President, the Department has conducted a careful and deliberative review of the benefits currently provided to the families of Service members,” Panetta said. “We have now identified additional family member and dependent benefits that we can lawfully provide to same-sex domestic partners of Military Service members and their children through changes in Department of Defense policies and regulations.”
“These benefits shall be extended to the same-sex domestic partners and, where applicable, children of same-sex domestic partners, once the Service member and their same-sex domestic partner have signed a declaration attesting to the existence of their committed relationship.”
Panetta memorandum included a copy of the “declaration” by which homosexual service members will to attest that they are in what Panetta calls a “committed relationship” with another person of the same-sex. The declaration is specifically for homosexuals and does not make any allowance for people of the opposite sex who are engaged in a heterosexual so-called “committed relationship.”
DOD’s “declaration” states that the “definition” of a “domestic partner” is as follows: “Domestic partner means a person in a domestic partnership with a Service member of the same sex.”
The “declaration” also says: “Domestic partnership means a committed relationship between two adults, of the same sex, that meets all the requirements below.”
In addition to being human beings of the same-sex, two service members seeking the special benefits that the Department of Defense will bestow on a “domestic partnership” must formally attest to the federal government that: “Neither of us is married (legally or by common law), joined in civil union with, or domestic partners with anyone else.”
If two people of the same-sex attest to the Department of Defense that they are unmarried domestic partners, they also must later inform the Department of Defense if they break up and no longer are same-sex domestic partners.
“We also agree to, and understand that: … We must inform my Service not later than 30 days after (a) the date of dissolution of the domestic partnership, (b) the date of the partnership no longer meets the eligibility requirements, or (c) termination of the domestic partnership by death.”
Panetta’s referendum said that because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Defense Department cannot extend all of the benefits given to married couples to unmarried same-sex “domestic partners.” But, Panetta said, “In the event that the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer applicable to the Department of Defense, it will be the policy of the Department to construe the words ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ without regard to sexual orientation, and married couples, irrespective of sexual orientation, will be granted full military benefits.”
Among the benefits that DOD will now give to same-sex “domestic partners” but not heterosexual domestic partners are: joint duty assignments, legal assistance, disability and death compensation, child care, space-available travel on DOD aircraft, payments to missing persons, commissary privileges, exchange privileges, welfare and recreation programs, emergency leave, and youth programs.