A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year said that the federal government must give equal treatment to same-sex couples who have legally “married.” But now the Pentagon wants to give a special, taxpayer-funded bonus to such couples — including a benefit that is not even available to heterosexual couples.
In the recent case of United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down as unconstitutional one section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Section 3 of DOMA defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman for all purposes of federal law, regardless of a state’s definition of marriage.
On the face of it, all this ruling meant was that same-sex couples who: 1) have already gotten legally “married” in a state or country that permits such “marriages;” and 2) now live in a state that recognizes such couples as “married;” must be granted the same benefits from the federal government that opposite-sex couples receive.
Now, however, the Department of Defense has gone much further. In a pair of memos released on August 13, they announced that a service member who wants to enter a same-sex “marriage,” but is posted more than 100 miles from a state that allows same-sex “marriages,” will be granted seven days of extra paid leave (ten days if posted outside the continental United States) just to travel to their wedding.
This special leave — only for destination weddings of homosexual couples — is above and beyond the regular annual leave granted to every service member. How much does this cost the American taxpayer? For ten days’ work, a captain (with six years’ experience) earns $1,787.20 in base pay alone – that’s not even accounting for benefits like housing allowance, health care, etc. And this special taxpayer-funded leave is only available for same-sex “weddings” — heterosexuals need not apply!
This special treatment is not required by the repeal of the 1993 law on homosexuality in the military referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;” it is not required by the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision; and it is fundamentally unequal and unfair. In a time of sequestration and severe cuts to the military, the Pentagon should be in the business of strengthening our troops, not on same-sex “wedding” planning.
The National Defense Authorization Bill for 2014, which would fund these unfair bonuses, now awaits action in the U.S. Senate. This, a taxpayer-funded wedding bonus from the Pentagon afforded on the basis of sexual orientation.