Ending DADT won’t lead to same-sex benefits – for now.
According to an article by Tom Philpott, the end of the DADT policy will not mean that same-sex partners will automatically gain access to military benefits, since the DoD is bound by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The 1996 law, which defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and defines "spouse" to mean " a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife,” also bars the Federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and does not allow spouse related benefits for gay partners.
However, there are some benefits that gay partners may be eligible for. For example, servicemembers with same-sex partners may be legally eligible for on-base housing. In addition, same-sex partners may be designated as beneficiaries of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and Federal Thrift Savings Plans.
Depending on how the DoD defines the terms “dependent” same-sex partners may also be eligible for base shopping, family support programs, legal assistance, space-available travel and relocation assistance when members move to new assignments.
However, the DADT report advises that the DoD not change current regulations to include benefit access to same-sex partners, "for the time being."
Read Tom Philpott’s article, Gay Benefit Rules Drafted, to learn more.