US Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps and  Ben Schock got married in May.

US Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps and Ben Schock got married in May.

Tuesday saw same-sex couples in the US military being granted new federal benefits, including special leave to get married.

All legally-married military spouses became eligible for a slew of benefits, including military I.D. cards, healthcare coverage, housing allowances and survivor benefits.

These benefits were previously only available to opposite-sex married couples.

In addition, un-married gay and lesbian service members can now also take up to 10 days of leave in order to travel to a state where they can legally marry.

Same-sex marriage is only legal in thirteen states in the US: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The Department of Defense policy changes follow the US Supreme Court ruling striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June.

“Today the US military is one step closer to righting the wrong of inequality in our armed forces,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin.

Spouses can claim the entitlements retroactively, going back to the day of the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling – June 26, 2013.

“The sacrifices our nation’s gay and lesbian service members and their families make every day should be valued and recognised, and this country owes these heroes every possible measure of support,” said Griffin,

It’s been reported, however, that the Texas National Guard is refusing to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits because same-sex marriage is banned in that state, despite orders from the Pentagon.

“…Due to this potential conflict, we are unable to enrol same-sex families into DEERs [the benefits system] at our state supported facilities until we receive legal clarification…” said the Guard.

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