Same-sex unions and military policy
|Legal recognition of
|† Not yet in effect|
The topic of same-sex unions and military service concerns the government treatment or recognition of same-sex unions (including same-sex marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships or cohabitation) who may consist of at least one servicemember of a nation's military.
The issue of recognition is usually predicated upon two pre-existing or debated criteria:
- that same-sex unions are recognized or conferred legitimacy in the country or at some subdivision level of a nation's government
- and that homosexuals and bisexuals can openly serve in the military without being punitively removed from service on the basis of their sexual orientation or conduct.
If both criteria are fulfilled, the question becomes a matter of how many rights, liberties or benefits are conferred by a military upon same-sex spouses of military servicemembers. Such stipulations include:
- Military housing provisions
- Military base security access clearance
- Insurance benefits
- Hospital visitation
- Inheritance and intestacy
- Custody or adoption of dependents
- Educational benefits
- Employment benefits
- Attendance of military social events
- Spousal registration and identification
- Retirement benefits for both spouses, even after a post-retirement divorce
Adoption and parenting 
No data currently exist on adoption of children or parenting by same-sex military families. In countries which legally recognize at least same-sex unregistered cohabitation, same-sex adoption and open service in the military, the allowance of same-sex adoption by such countries' armed forces is more likely assured.
In addition to the issues and occurrences which are encountered in general LGBT parenting, children in same-sex military families would also encounter issues which are endemic to children of opposite-sex military couples, such as deployment, frequent household reassignment, life among other military children (i.e., in school, playtime, socialization), care for wounded parents, life after the death of a parent, dependent benefits, and so on.
By country 
South Africa 
In 2002 the South African National Defence Force extended medical and pension benefits, which had previously only been available to the spouses of military personnel, to their life partners without regard to gender. This came about as a consequence of the Constitutional Court's ruling in Satchwell v President of the Republic of South Africa; although that case involved the same-sex partner of a High Court judge, the reasoning was applicable to all government employees. Same-sex marriages have been possible since 2006 and are legally equivalent to opposite-sex marriages.
No law currently provides benefits for same-sex couples with military spouses (or, for that matter, any same-sex spouses to federal government employees). Instead, death benefits for military spouses have been promised by (now former) Defense Minister Nelson Jobim.
The Canadian Armed Forces recognize same-sex marriages and treats same-sex couples with military spouses as legally equivalent to opposite-sex couples.
United States 
Despite the legalization of military service by openly homosexual and bisexual servicemembers in 2011, the partners of gay or lesbian servicemembers, including those married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, are excluded from being treated on an equal basis as opposite-sex spouses of military servicemembers. Same-sex spouses can receive notification of a partner's death in action, but are not entitled to receive the details of the death. Furthermore, same-sex spouses are denied identification cards, base access, access to repatriation ceremonies, and other entitlements, and can also be separated due to deployment of the military partner.
This creates a discrepancy for servicemembers who are presently in marital, civil or domestic partnership unions performed and recognized at the state or municipal levels.
On February 11, 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the Department's extension of certain military "additional benefits" to same-sex spouses which are not explicitly prohibited under the Defense of Marriage Act, in addition to "member-designated benefits" which were already available to same-sex spouses.
In France, civil solidarity pacts (PACS) are allows to all same-sex and opposite-sex couples, but do not possess several rights which are made available to same-sex unions outside of France, such as marriages in Belgium or civil partnerships in the United Kingdom. PACS are recognized by the French Armed Forces, but consequently confer fewer abilities or benefits to same-sex (or opposite-sex) couples than opposite-sex marriages. Joint adoptions of children by same-sex couples are also not legal under PACS.
Legislation passed by Parliament on January 13, 2011 granted military partners living under PACS equal access to pensions as those given to married opposite-sex couples.
Republic of Ireland 
The Irish Defence Forces allow for civilly-partnered servicemembers to record their partnership status on their personnel file.
United Kingdom 
Spouses in civil partnerships are entitled to spousal benefits (including life insurance benefits, pensions, employment benefits), immigration equality, and similar recognition as opposite-sex military spouses for tax purposes. Civil partners are also allowed accommodation in military housing, security clearance and allowances.
The federal government of Australia recognizes cohabiting same-sex partners of LGBT servicemembers in the Australian Defence Force as de facto partners, as it does all other gay or lesbian cohabitations or partnerships as recognized or performed at the state or territory level. This was done by enforcing the terms of the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Act 2008.
- Belkin, Aaron; Canaday, Margot (2010). "Assessing the integration of gays and lesbians into the South African National Defence Force". Scientia Militaria (Stellenbosch University) 38 (2): 1–21. Retrieved 18 January 2012.
- "Military Gay Couples Won’t Enjoy Benefits". Military.com. July 18, 2011.
- Leon Panetta (February 11, 2013). "Statement from Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on the Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Partners, No. 077-13". Department of Defense.
- "Memorandum for Secretaries of the Military Departments Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, SUBJECT: Extending Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Military Members". February 11, 2013.
- "Civil Partnerships". Proud2Serve.
- "Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Act 2008". Australian Government ComLaw.
- "HISTORY OF SAME SEX POLICY IN DEFENCE AND THE COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT". Australian Department of Defence.