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The senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is challenging the Defense Department’s plan to provide extra uncharged marriage leave for same-sex couples, saying it isn’t fair to traditional couples and may be illegal.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., raised the issue in a Aug. 22 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, saying he is “unaware of any legal authority to grant uncharged leave to couples seeking to be married.”
The letter is in reference to a plan announced Aug. 13 to grant administrative leave to gay couples who live in a state where same-sex couples cannot legally marry so they can travel to a state where such marriages are legal. Leave would be provided if the couples lived more than 100 miles from a state where they could legally marry. Details on the proposed benefit are still being worked out.
No such leave is provided or proposed for other service members because they could legally marry without traveling a long distance.
Inhofe said he is “very disappointed” with the announcement of a benefit that is “not equally afforded to opposite-sex couples.”
“I firmly support the Department of Defense’s stated commitment to ensuring that all men and women who serve our country and their families should be treated fairly and equally,” he said. “However, this change in policy will create disparate treatment between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in our armed forces contrary to the Department’s stated policy.”