Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has extended a list of benefits to the same-sex spouses of service members as well as to the unmarried partners of gay troops.
The benefits were all previously denied by the Pentagon.
The perks, automatically available to heterosexual military spouses, will include child care services, member-designated hospital visits, and the issuing of military ID cards, which will give same-sex spouses and partners access to on-base commissaries, movie theaters and gyms.
The policy changes will go into effect once training on the new rules is completed.
While advocates for gay and lesbian service members and their families hailed Panetta's policy switch as "encouraging," the federal Defense of Marriage Act still blocks the DOD from enacting more than 85 other benefits now provided to heterosexual military spouses and their children - most notably medical and dental care, housing allowances, and death benefits.