US: Christian group says leave to allow gay soldiers to marry discriminates against straight people

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A US Christian conservative group has voiced disapproval at the recently announced plans by the Pentagon to allow military service members in same-sex relationships leave to travel in states where equal marriage is legal, claiming that it is discriminatory towards straight people.

The Pentagon last week announced that same-sex couples in the US military would be given up to ten days leave in order to marry in a state where equal marriage is legal, if they were based a certain distance away.

Extra leave is being offered, as same-sex marriage is not legal in all fifty US states, and to allow same-sex couples time to travel to a state which offers equal marriage, and back.

The Family research Council has now voiced its opposition to the announcement, claiming that the Defense Department would be paying for “homosexual honeymoons”.

Peter Sprigg, the FRC’s senior fellow for policy studies wrote a blog post claiming that the leave goes “well beyond anything required by the Supreme Court’s recent strike-down of the Defense of marriage Act.

The decision by the Pentagon comes after the US Supreme Court in June struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which previously defined marriage as between one man and one woman., and opened up over 1,100 benefits to same-sex couples.

“A plain reading of the [Supreme Court ruling] suggests that the federal government is now only required to recognize same-sex couples as “married” when they reside in a state which also recognizes them as legally “married.” The requirement does not extend to couples whose marriage is not recognized by their state of residence, and [the decision] certainly does not require that military personnel be granted extra leave for their destination weddings,” he wrote.

“Furthermore, it could well be argued that the new policy actively discriminates against opposite-sex couples – who receive no special leave for their weddings,” he said.

Jessica Wright, Acting undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, said the new policy, titled Leave and Liberty was implemented “in recognition of the fact that many states do not recognizes same-sex marriage.”

On announcing the policy, the Pentagon released a statement saying: “That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of traveling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur. This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department, and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married.”