WASHINGTON -- Things just got a little bit easier for Senate staffers in same-sex marriages.

On Tuesday, a mass email went out to thousands of Senate employees giving details on how those in legal same-sex marriages can now extend their federal benefits to their spouses and any stepchildren. Senate employees were notified earlier this month that they would soon be able to extend benefits to their families, thanks to the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in late June.

The new three-page document details how Senate employees in legal same-sex marriages can begin enrolling to extend benefits through August 26, 2013. Health benefits, life insurance, dental/vision coverage, long-term care, Flexible Spending Accounts and retirement benefits are now available to the spouses of any Senate staffer in a legal same-sex marriage, regardless of the employee's state of residency.

If someone gets legally married to a same-sex partner in the future, that will "be treated as a Qualified Life Event (QLE) in the same manner as opposite-sex marriages, regardless of an employee's state of residency," the document reads.

The memo clarifies that same-sex couples in civil unions or other forms of domestic partnerships are ineligible for most federal benefits programs.

A House Democratic aide said Tuesday afternoon that the House is following the same guidelines as the Senate for rolling out extended federal benefits. Last week, the Chief Administrative Officer of the House sent an email to House chiefs of staff outlining the steps House staffers in same-sex marriages should take to cover their families.

Gay marriage is currently legal in 13 states. It's also legal in the District of Columbia, which means there's likely a decent number of Capitol Hill staffers who will, for the first time, be able to extend benefits to their families.

This story was updated to clarify how the House is proceeding with extending federal benefits to staff in same-sex marriages.

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    Who's laughing now? (Via <a href="http://godhatesprotesters.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/hes-gay/" target="_hplink">God Hates Protesters</a>)

  • Burn!

    Perhaps some denim could set her free. (Via <a href="http://thefbomb.org/2009/11/corduroy-skirts-are-a-sin/" target="_hplink">The F-Bomb</a>)

  • Not What They Were Going For

    This was risky, too, judging by that megaphone. (Via <a href="http://www.dailyfunnystuff.net/anti-gay-protest-failure" target="_hplink">Daily Funny Stuff</a>)

  • Hey Now...

    Counter Protest, 1. Protest, 0. (Via <a href="http://godhatesprotesters.wordpress.com/" target="_hplink">God Hates Protesters</a>)

  • Juxtaposition

    Which one is less threatening? (Via <a href="http://www.niot.org/blog/california-responds-dancing-music-and-love-westboro-visits-updated" target="_hplink">Not In Our Town</a>)

  • He Has A Sign

    ...And A Point. (Via <a href="http://www.queeried.com/anti-gay-church-counter-protests/" target="_hplink">Queeried</a>)

  • Don't Mind Him

    If you give him attention, he just stays longer! (Via <a href="http://www.impdr.com/index_files/inaugural-offensive-quote-of-the-week.php" target="_hplink">I'm PDR</a>)

  • New Meaning

    We bet this guy kills at Scrabble. (Via <a href="http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/political-jokes-funny-quotes-83-ironic-protest-signs/" target="_hplink">PAP Blog</a>)

  • Fitting Right In

    Oh, don't get the kids involved! (Via <a href="http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/political-jokes-funny-quotes-83-ironic-protest-signs/" target="_hplink">PAP Blog</a>)

  • Street Sign FTW!

    If he only knew he was being owned by a piece of sheet metal. (Via <a href="http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/political-jokes-funny-quotes-83-ironic-protest-signs/" target="_hplink">PAP Blog</a>)

  • Captain Obvious

    Yeah! You Tell 'em! (Via <a href="http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/funnypictures/ig/Funny-Protest-Signs/Homosexual-Are-Gay.htm" target="_hplink">About.com</a>)

  • Dedicated Counter-Protesting

    "Repent you guys! Come on, guys. Please repent? Guys?" (<a href="http://www.outfrontcolorado.com/blog/?p=4938" target="_hplink">Via Out Front Colorado</a>)

  • Classic

    He probably omitted the arrow because there were so many other signs to stand by. (Via <a href="http://current.com/entertainment/88822904_fred-phelps-to-protest-heath-ledgers-funeral.htm" target="_hplink">Current</a>)

  • Hmm...

    Well, it makes about as much sense. (Via <a href="http://godhatesprotesters.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/dog-hates/" target="_hplink">God Hates Protesters</a>)

  • True Lies

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/scrimshawjimm"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/scrimshawjimm">scrimshawjimm</a>:<br />

  • Secretly One of Us

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/pahlhannah"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1270506692/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/pahlhannah">pahlhannah</a>:<br />A lone Prop 8 supporter with a sign above him made by Hannah Pahl and Isaiah Smith.

  • Repenting

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Sarah_Crossley"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Sarah_Crossley">Sarah Crossley</a>:<br />photo op at a humble midwestern pride event ;)

  • Girls At St. Pete Pride

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Danny_Garcia"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Danny_Garcia">Danny Garcia</a>:<br />

  • "And The Greatest Of These Is Love."

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Michael_Bedwell"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Michael_Bedwell">Michael Bedwell</a>:<br />On the left, Chip Arndt, president of Miami's Freedom Democrats, and out gay co-winner [with his former partner Reichen Lehmkuhl] of "The Amazing Race." Taken at 2005 Equality Forum.

  • They Both Can't Be Right...

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/FreeHethe"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/FreeHethe">FreeHethe</a>

  • Jesus Made Me Gay

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Leslie_Springs"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Leslie_Springs">Leslie Springs</a>:<br />Asheville, NC LOVES Gregg!!

  • Pittsburgh Pink and Black

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Adrian_Mellori"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/1156230.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Adrian_Mellori">Adrian Mellori</a>:<br />Anti-gay protesters get a taste of anarcho-queers in Pittsburgh

  • Vagina Hell

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/geobomb"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/11509836/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/geobomb">geobomb</a>:<br />If all the gay's are going to hell then that's where I want to be.

  • Phelps protest in San Diego March 2010

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/AHizz"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/825578-tiny.png?20091207022151" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/AHizz">AHizz</a>:<br />I love how the anchor lady completely stands out of the way of my sign so the camera can see it...while she's interviewing stupid.