After defeating the infamous Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, the U.S. government is helping again its LGBT military members. Starting September 3, it will give same-sex couples the same benefits (health coverage, housing, separate allowances, and many others) heterosexual couples had enjoyed long before them, even if they are retired. The policy will be retroactive to June 26 (when key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act were struck down) or to the date of the couple's wedding if it came after June 26. And for those who are stationed in jurisdictions not recognizing same-sex unions, the Pentagon will even allow non-chargeable leaves so they can get married.
And for once, most Republicans won't object to it, which seems to be in line with what people agree with for society at large (although individual members like Senator Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma have voiced their opposition).
Other conservatives, such as the Family Research Council, claim that the benefits are being granted because Congress fears homosexual activists and the Obama administration. Ditto for the American Family Association who, more generally, strongly supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage altogether in order to stop "liberal judge activism."
Meanwhile, same-sex couples have won pretty much every battle with the federal government, and indirectly with many private employers, with organization such as the U.S. Post Office extending benefits to them. But now begins the hardest part: Getting recognition from states. That fight is going to be a hard, as most states having some kind of restriction on same-sex marriage are "crimson" red and are unlikely to recognize same-sex couples any time soon.
But it doesn't mean it's impossible. Cities in New Jersey and Tennessee as well as the Santa Fe county council all passed resolutions (or are about to) showing their support for marriage equality. Pennsylvania's attorney general refused to defend her state's ban on same-sex marriage in a case involving many such couples, while Ohio's approved that marriage should be between two consenting adults. And recently, a federal judge ordered the Buckeye State to recognize a same-sex couple as married; many believe the state will appeal the case.
So despite recent moves by the federal government, marriage equality is far from being achieved in the U.S., although many restrictions can be circumvented . Indeed, same-sex couples can now receive federal benefits almost everywhere; they can even marry over the internet. However, whatever your position on marriage is, you should ask yourself one question: Why should the state encourage any kind of marriage? What happens between consenting adults whose life or property is not in danger is their business alone; they don't have a "right" to special benefits.