For the first time, the Department of Defense will extend benefits to same-sex spouses of military members.
The new policy, announced on Wednesday, means that same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees will have the same benefits spousal and family benefits, no later than Sept. 3.
“It’s fair and it’s right and I never thought I’d see it,” said Anjala Batchfield, who has been in a relationship with U.S. Army Reserve Specialist Gail Dick for 16 years. “It was about time because, you know, here my partner goes overseas, does a tour in Iraq, so people can be free and I don’t have the same freedoms.”
When Specialist Gail Dick served in Iraq in 2006 and 2007 with the Army Reserves, she had to keep her relationship secret due to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. Even after the policy was repealed in 2011, she knew that if she was deployed again, her partner still wouldn’t receive the same benefits as someone who was straight.
“Lord forbid, if I ever got killed in the military, she would not receive the flag,” Specialist Dick said. “It would go to my parents. Being together 16 years, you know, here I am serving our country, and you know, I give my life for my country and my partner can’t even get the flag.”
This year’s Supreme Court ruling which deemed the Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional, is what led the DOD to change the benefit policy to include all legally married couples no matter their sexual orientation.
Gail and Anjala can’t be married in Indiana, but the DOD is also offering non-chargeable leave to military personnel who live in states like Indiana, so that they can go get married in states that do offer it.
“It’s an overwhelming thing, it really is,” Batchfield said. “Since it’s been coming out, the news that it’s going to happen, we’ve actually been planning a wedding.”
“I’d love to have a military wedding, walk down the aisle under the swords and everything like that.” said Specialist Dick. “I think that would be great. I think it would be awesome.”
Specialist Dick and Batchfield plan to travel to Iowa to get married in the coming months.