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The Department of Defense said this week it is reviewing a decision to recognize same-sex relationships when transferring teachers at overseas schools.

The decision, made in mid-January by the DOD Education Activity and two teachers unions, gives gay couples who both teach at military schools the same status and consideration as heterosexual married teachers when they request a job transfer together. It also applies to committed but unmarried heterosexual couples involved in domestic partnerships.

The new policy remains in force and would affect teacher transfers later this year.

The DOD and its Education Activity declined to discuss the policy review and refused to grant interviews to Stars and Stripes.

“This matter, between DODEA and [the Federal Education Association] and [the Overseas Federation of Teachers], is currently under review by Department of Defense,” Air Force Maj. April Cunningham, a DOD spokeswoman, wrote in a statement e-mailed to Stars and Stripes on Thursday.

The FEA, which negotiated the new policy, said it expects DODEA to follow through with the change.

“FEA has not received any word from [DODEA] regarding any review or reconsideration of this agreement,” union president Michael Priser wrote Friday in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “FEA does expect agreements between labor and management to be fully implemented.”

Gay couples will receive no new compensation benefits but will be considered equals to other married couples under the new DODEA transfer program, which moves teachers among military school districts around the world.

They must either provide a legal marriage certificate or sign an affidavit saying they have been in a relationship for at least one year and are dedicated to being life partners.

The change touches on the sensitive issue of gay rights in the defense community, which has been stirred by President Barack Obama granting some benefits for same-sex spouses of federal employees last summer and his repeated promise to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on open homosexuality.

The FEA said it has long sought to extend the transfer benefit to its teachers who work at overseas military facilities and are in same-sex domestic partnerships.

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