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DEERS, IPAC already enrolling same-sex spouses

16 Sep 2013 | Mike DiCicco

When a Marine administrative message was issued at the end of August directing that benefits be extended to same-sex spouses of Marines by Sept. 3, 2013, agencies aboard Quantico were already prepared to make the change.

“The [Defense Manpower Data Center] kept us informed as to what was happening, and it went off without a hitch,” said Danette Krolczyk, who heads the Quantico Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System ID Card Center, noting that, about a week after the change was made, the center had already issued a few ID cards to same-sex spouses.

MARADMIN 432/13 implemented guidance that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued on Aug. 13, following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

However, with the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy repealed, the Department of Defense had already been working toward extending family benefits to same-sex partners. In one of his last acts in office, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered in February that benefits be extended to same-sex domestic partners no later than Oct. 1.

Such benefits have never been extended to unmarried domestic partners, but the move was a way to “ensure fairness and equal treatment and to [take] care of all of our service members and their families, to the extent allowable under the law,” according to the Feb. 11 memo.

The new policy cancels the instructions to extend benefits to domestic partners and makes same-sex spouses eligible for all the benefits of heterosexual spouses, so long as the marriage is valid in the state where it took place.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Darren Anderson, director of Quantico’s Installation Personnel Administration Center, said his agency, too, is already processing same-sex spouses. “We had systems capability take effect Sept. 3,” Anderson said, adding that two Marines enrolled their same-sex spouses during the first week after the change.

While service members need to enroll their dependents at DEERS to obtain dependent ID cards that entitle them to benefits like the Tricare health care program and access to the Marine Corps Exchange and the commissary, they must also go to IPAC to get them enrolled in the Marine Corps Total Force System for benefits like basic allowance for housing and Service Members Group Life Insurance and to register their record of emergency data, Anderson said. “The requirement is that service members go to both locations.”

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico