WASHINGTON (CN) - Same-sex spouses are entitled to a military ID and benefits along with opposite-sex spouses, the Department of Defense announced in an interim regulation.
The DoD did not previously recognize same-sex "spouses," with Title X of the U.S. code defining the term "spouse or former spouse" to mean "the husband or wife, or former husband or wife, respectively, of a member who, on or before the date of a court order, was married to that member."
The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act specifically barred same-sex spouses from receiving federal benefits.
In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Windsor, ruled the act to be unconstitutional. The agency now "construes the words 'spouse' and 'marriage' to include same-sex spouses and marriages," the DoD said.
Under the interim regulation, same-sex spouses are entitled to the same DoD identification cards as their opposite-sex counterparts and now have access to health care, life insurance and survivor benefits.
In an August 2013 memo, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the DoD has already begun transforming its view of same-sex marriages.
"It is now the department's policy to treat all married military personnel equally," he said.
Same-sex couples are now cleared to get the proper paperwork, Robert Eves of the DoD's Defense Human Resources Activity told Courthouse News.
"[Same-sex couples] now have the freedom to travel into jurisdictions that legally allow [them] to get married, and if [they] have a valid marriage certificate, the DoD now recognizes that," he told Courthouse News.
The regulation was initially proposed Aug. 6, 2010. Since no public comment was received, the interim regulation is the same as the proposed regulation, according to the action. The department will consider comments to the interim regulation in the final version.
The interim rule went into effect Jan. 6. Comments are due by March 7.
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