US Christian Group: ‘Allowing same-sex military benefits will reduce morale’

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A fundamentalist Christian organisation in the US has heavily criticised the Pentagon’s recent announcement that it will extend some benefits to same-sex military couples.

In an email alert, the American Family Association criticised the decision, particularly the possibility that the partners of gay military service members could be buried in military cemeteries.

Responding to announcements from earlier this week that the US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, confirmed reports that the Pentagon was to extend some benefits to same-sex military couples, the American Family Association sent out an “action alert” condemning the decision.

“This means the military will recognize homosexual lovers as ‘married’ and will give a full slate of benefits, including burial in Arlington National Cemetery”, the alert read.

Criticising Mr Panetta directly, the call to action read: “Panetta, at every turn, has exposed the military to open homosexuality, which presents an unacceptable risk to good order, discipline, morale and unit cohesion – qualities essential for combat readiness.”

It continued: “Under your watch, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has effectively devastated our nation’s military by allowing the “gay agenda” to take priority over national defense.

“I urge you to do your part in restoring sanity to the Department of Defense and stop social experimentation in the military.”

A study released in September 2012 revealed that the repeal of the ban on openly gay people serving in the US military, one year on, had no negative impact.

The alert went on to encourage subscribers to write to Congress members “letting them know that, on their watch, they have allowed the security of our nation to be endangered by focusing on social experimentation, rather than defense.”

In his announcement, Mr Panetta referred to the Defense of Marriage Act, which still stands as law, defining marriage on a federal level as being exclusively between one man and one woman, Mr Panetta said that the scope of benefits which could be offered was limited.

He said that he did not foresee that it would be repealed during his time as Defense Secretary, but that he looked forward to a time when equal benefits were enjoyed by all.

Earlier this week, a former disgraced Navy chaplain, Gordon Klingenschmitt, argued that allowing equal benefits would lead to “discrimination against heterosexuals”.

In late January, a coalition of businesses formed in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, to allow equal marriage recognition to same-sex couples federally.

Several states have found that DOMA is unconstitutional, and although it has not been repealed, in February 2011, President Barack Obama said his administration would cease enforcing the federal ban on equal marriage.