How a DOMA Verdict Affects Gay and Lesbian Military Families

03.28.13 1:00 PM ET

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POLITICO's Tim Mak notes what's at stake for gay and lesbian military couples as the Supreme Court evaluates the merits of the Defense of Marriage Act.

[A]bout 70 percent of a service member’s compensation comes in the form of benefits, meaning the policies the Pentagon is permitted to implement could make a big difference on the bottom line for same-sex military couples. For example, it costs nothing for a service member to include his or her opposite-sex partner in military health care, but SLDN estimated it could cost more than $5,600 for same-sex partners.

In February, DoD authorized gay and lesbian troops to receive benefits for child care, readiness support, emergency leave, base privileges and others, but the marriage act still bars major perks such as housing, health care and some burial and travel benefits.

About 5,600 active-duty personnel, 3,400 National Guard and Reserve troops and 8,000 retired service members would be affected by changes in how same-sex couples are treated by the military, a defense official told POLITICO last month.