Defense Secretary Hagel announced that gay and lesbian members of the military who wish to marry now qualify for up to seven days of uncharged leave to travel to a state where such marriages are legal. To qualify for this one-time special homosexual "marriage leave" accommodation, servicemembers must be stationed more than 100 miles from a state where same-sex marriages are legal. Those assigned outside of the continental U.S (to include Alaska and Hawaii) will get up to 10 days of extra leave. The new same-sex marriage leave is not counted against a servicemembers 30 days annual leave. According to Tom Philpott’s recent Military Update, Hagel explained the rationale behind the extraordinary benefit in an Aug. 13 memo to service secretaries. Read the Military Update for more details about the decision to grant the new leave benefit. The Aug. 13 memo also announced that the services are to begin providing full military benefits to married gay members, including spouse ID cards, no later than Sept. 3. The full benefits and payments will be retroactive to June 26, 2013 and include TRICARE, housing allowances, subsistence allowances, and family separation allowances. According to Philpott, same-sex couples that were legally married before that date, will be eligible for back pay of spouse-related allowances and spouse medical care reimbursements. However, they will not be eligible for the extra leave benefit. Read more about the plan to expand military benefits to same-sex couples.
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