The Department of Defense moved to extend benefits to same-sex military spouses after the Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.
"The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses—regardless of sexual orientation—as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement hours after the Supreme Court decided that DOMA—a federal law barring the recognition of same-sex marriage—was unconstitutional.
"Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so. Today's ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve," Hagel said.
The department will immediately take several actions in the wake of the decision, including making identification cards available to same-sex spouses of members of the military (which the department estimated will take six to 12 weeks) and offering them housing, medical and dental benefits as well as interment at Arlington National Cemetery. The department is reviewing its policies regarding overseas tours, according to a spokesman.