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Pentagon likely to extend some benefits to same-sex partners

Lolita C. Baldor

 WASHINGTON – U.S. officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is poised to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of military members.

 The policy change would come about 16 months after the Pentagon repealed its ban on openly gay service.

 Officials said Panetta has not made a final decision on which benefits will be included, but the Pentagon is likely to allow same-sex partners to have access to the on-base commissary and other military subsidized stores, as well as health and welfare programs.

 Officials said the military is likely to require that some type of document be signed to designate the military member’s partner as a legitimate recipient of the benefits.

 The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.

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