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Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN’s executive director, said the new guidance “strikes the right balance between respecting the faith traditions of chaplains and affording all service members the same rights under current law. This is another logical step in the direction of full equality for gay and lesbian service members, and we hope the department will continue to move down that path.”

The Pentagon is not providing partner benefits, such as housing, citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, now being challenged in court. Signed by President Clinton, it defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the department has no information on how many gay service members have come out since Sept. 20.