JERUSALEM, Jan. 13 (JTA) — A Tel Aviv court has ordered the Israel Defense Force to grant the homosexual partner of a deceased IDF career officer all the benefits awarded surviving spouses. In its precedent-setting ruling, which forces the IDF to recognize gay unions, the court’s appeals committee accepted the appeal of Tel Aviv resident Adir Steiner. Steiner had appealed to the committee on the grounds that he was publicly known as the companion of Col. Doron Maisel, an officer in the medical corps who died of cancer in 1991. The IDF had previously rejected Steiner’s requests for recognition as the surviving partner. Steiner argued that the law on granting rights to a person’s known partner, even if there was never a formal marriage, did not specify their sex. He maintained that the IDF’s policy of refusing him the benefits because of his gender was discriminatory. Steiner argued that if he were a woman, he would not have encountered any resistance to receiving the benefits. In accepting Steiner’s arguments, the committee said the law providing benefits to the survivors of career officers applies to couples who have been formally married and to those who are known in public as life companions.