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Pentagon expected to expand benefits to same-sex spouses

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 2346 GMT (0746 HKT)
Military housing, like these, at Fort Hamilton, New York City's only active-duty military base, could become available to same sex couples serving in the military.
Military housing, like these, at Fort Hamilton, New York City's only active-duty military base, could become available to same sex couples serving in the military.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Defense Secretary Panetta is expected to extend more benefits to same-sex spouses
  • Benefits, including housing, would not violate marriage act, gay rights groups say
  • Nominee Chuck Hagel has said he supports the extension of such benefits

(CNN) -- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce this week that same-sex spouses of service members will be granted some benefits that they had been denied until now, according to an Obama administration official.

Sources in the gay activist community have received indications that the announcement could come this week.

The Pentagon has been reviewing what benefits it could extend without violating the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay rights groups have been calling for the change.

Among the benefits gay rights groups say can be legally extended are housing on military bases, military ID cards to access on-base activities and programs, access to commissaries and the consideration of a same-sex spouse and family in duty assignments.

Panetta's likely replacement, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, has said he supports extending the benefits.

"I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members," Hagel wrote in answer to a questionnaire he completed for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Military club closes ranks to same-sex spouse

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