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23 January 2013

The Honorable Leon Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We at the American Military Partner Association are pleased to see that you have taken action to lift the ban on women in combat military occupational specialties. By taking such action, you have shown that no barriers should be in place based upon a service member’s gender, as long as they are willing and capable of serving our great nation. However, this leadership decision only highlights a problem our military families are facing.

Because of out-dated Defense Department regulations, our gay and lesbian military families are facing severe hardships in serving our nation.  As related to your recent decision, the same-sex spouses and domestic partners of the female service members who will soon be able to serve in any role of the military are still denied access to the same benefits and support services as other military spouses.

Additionally, private organizations that operate on military installations, as most notably displayed with my personal denial of full membership to the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses at Fort Bragg, NC, are still being permitted to discriminate against same-sex spouses, using a lack of a military identification card to do so.

While we understand that the Defense of Marriage Act currently prohibits some benefits from being extended, as was pointed out to you back in August of 2011 by our friends at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, there are numerous benefits and support services that can be extended to same-sex military spouses right now, most notably a military identification card.

Within the confines of current law, we humbly ask for the sake of our military families that you use your authority to direct the extension of benefits immediately to same-sex military spouses.  We also ask that you ensure no private organization operating on a military installation is able to exclude a military spouse simply because of their gender.  Every military family should be properly equipped and supported as they serve our country.

Very Respectfully,

Ashley Broadway
Director of Family Affairs
The American Military Partner Association