- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Pentagon is alerting same-sex married couples they are now under the same federal ethics rules as heterosexual marriages and must avoid criminal conflicts of interest.

In a memo sent by the general counsel’s office to all branches and major commands, gay couples are told that their spouses’ financial interests are now also owned, in the eyes of the federal government, by the military member or civilian employee.

“In other words, your same-sex spouse’s financial interests are imputed to you,” the memo says. “As a result, for example, you may not work on any assignments that have a direct and predictable effect on your same-sex spouses financial interests because you would have an actual criminal conflict of interest.”

Same-sex married couples also must include their spouse’s incomes and investments if they are required to file a financial disclosure form.

Gays that are in domestic partnerships or civil unions, which are allowed in some states in lieu of marriage, have some restrictions too.

Federal regulations, says the memo sent in mid-September, “may require a civilian employee or military member to be recused from working on assignments affecting his or her partner or members of their households because of the appearance that he or she cannot be impartial.”

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The new rules took effect Aug. 19 as a result of the Supreme Court decision in June that said section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The section had prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where such unions are legal.

For the purposes of benefits, the Pentagon now treats legal same-sex married couples just like married heterosexuals.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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