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SLDN Responds to Benefits Guidance Issued by the Pentagon

For Immediate Release:
Friday, October 28, 2011

Contact:
Zeke Stokes (SLDN): 202.621.5406 or zeke@sldn.org

SLDN Responds to Benefits Guidance Issued by the Pentagon
Sarvis renews calls for Panetta to provide all support available under current law

(Washington, D.C.)  Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis released a statement regarding today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense that it has identified 14 benefits for which members may designate beneficiaries of their choosing, regardless of sexual orientation as part of an ongoing review of military benefits in connection with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“Unfortunately, today’s announcement does nothing to move the ball forward on the issue of providing equal benefits, recognition, and family support for legally married gay and lesbian families.  The benefits outlined today were, in fact, available even before the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’  Again, SLDN calls upon Secretary Panetta to confer now all the benefits and recognition he is authorized to extend to gay and lesbian service members and their families under current law,” said Sarvis.

SLDN sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in August, outlining benefit and family support programs that can be extended under current law without coming into conflict with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or other federal statutes.  On Thursday, SLDN filed a constitutional challenge in federal court in order to secure equal benefits, recognition, and family support for all military families. 

“We are not advocating any special treatment for the families of gay and lesbian service members or veterans, but we want to underscore that all military families should be treated the same when it comes to recognition, benefits and family support,” said Sarvis.

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ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination.  Since 1993, our in-house legal team has responded to more than 11,000 requests for assistance. To learn more, click here

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100.  SLDN’s Freedom to Serve: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Military Service, may be found here.  

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