The Pentagon announced Wednesday that a range of new federal benefits will soon be offered to same-sex spouses of American troops. Service members stationed in one of the 37 states that ban marriage equality will also now receive permission for up to 10 days of leave to travel with their partners to states that do grant same-sex marriage licenses.Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the new benefits evidence of the Obama Administration's "liberal social agenda." Inhofe also questioned the legal authority the Pentagon has to grant leave for these purposes.His statement reads, in full:
"This is another example of the administration leaking information to the press while being unable to find the time to brief Congress. I am unaware of any legal authority for the DoD to grant 10 days of non-chargeable leave, a benefit that offers preferential treatment to same-sex marriage over heterosexual marriage. Military leave is granted by statute, and while there are special provisions in law for adoptions, child birth and emergency situations, to my knowledge there are no special provisions for marriage, same-sex or otherwise. As I have warned before, this administration is eroding our military's historical apolitical stance by using it as their activism arm for their liberal social agenda."
The Pentagon will offer other benefits tied to health care and and housing to legally married, same-sex couples in the military. The announcement, which was posted online, states that these benefits will be "available no later than Sept. 3, 2013, regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate."