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US to offer benefits to spouses of gay troops: official

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Pentagon plans to extend some benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian troops, officials said Tuesday.

The decision was expected to be formally announced within days, before outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta retires this month, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But the officials could not say which benefits would be provided to same-sex couples.

Since the Pentagon lifted a ban on openly gay recruits serving in uniform in September 2011, it has grappled with questions about benefits as it must comply with a law prohibiting the federal government from granting same-sex marriages legal status.

But officials have been looking at ways to extend some benefits without violating the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The Pentagon move is in keeping with President Barack Obama's inaugural address last month, in which he signaled a push to ensure equal rights for "our gay brothers and sisters."

Rights advocates have called for offering gay spouses military identification cards and access to family service programs and military shops.

The issue has been under review for several months by the chiefs of the armed services, who have been studying a proposal on providing benefits to spouses of gay troops.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130205/us-offer-benefits-spouses-gay-troops-official