Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Thu, August 15 2013 at 6:32 PM, Updated: Thu, August 15 2013 at 6:53 PM
Same-sex couples in the military will now get the same benefits as other couples as long as they're legally married.
Advocates in Southern Oregon say it's reason to celebrate.
The military for almost two decades operated under a "don't ask, don't tell" policy where gay people had to serve in secrecy. But now the new decision to provide benefits for everyone is being called a "win" by people who say it's a long time coming.
The decision all started with the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in June. Now big changes are in the works. The federal government has decided same-sex married couples should be afforded the same benefits as every one else.
"I'm so excited to hear that same-sex couples will now be able to reap the benefits [...] that are allotted to [...] straight couples," said Gina Duquenne with Southern Oregon Pride.
"There's no visibility of any difference between how you're married now, it's just that you are married," said Pam Hillers, HR Manager at the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics.
"Federal health benefits, life insurance, dental and health plans and everything else," said Hillers.
Also, where couples get married doesn't matter.
"If you were married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage and then you moved to Oregon who has not recognized same-sex marriage yet, in the federal government you're considered to be married," Hillers said.
Gina DuQuenne with Southern Oregon Pride said in a post-DOMA world. It's good to see policies are shifting in the military.
"If you are willing to lay your life down for your country then you should be afforded all the benefits, marriage [...] benefits you get for serving in the military," said DuQuenne.
The Pentagon has also said they will allow people to take a leave of absence in order to get married in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
Couples married before the DOMA was overturned on June 26th, have 60 days to file for the benefits. That means the deadline is August 26th.
After that, couples will have to wait until general open-filing season in November.
As for future marriages, couples will have 60-days to file from their marriage date.
To be eligible, just bring in a marriage certificate.
Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.
Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.
Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.
Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.