Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma on Monday criticized the Obama administration's decision to extend some benefits to the spouses of gay service members.

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the benefits, which include housing privileges, access to base recreational facilities and joint duty assignments for couples in the military.

In his written statement, Panetta also appeared to call for an end to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law which prevents the Pentagon from extending equal benefits to the spouses of gay service members.

“One of the legal limitations to providing all benefits at this time is the Defense of Marriage Act, which is still the law of the land,” Panetta wrote. “There are certain benefits that can only be provided to spouses as defined by that law, which is now being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. While it will not change during my tenure as secretary of defense, I foresee a time when the law will allow the department to grant full benefits to service members and their dependents, irrespective of sexual orientation. Until then, the department will continue to comply with current law while doing all we can to take care of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families.”

Inhofe, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the administration was “on a slippery slope.”

“In a weak attempt to not violate the Defense of Marriage Act, the administration is using a play on words by saying 'same sex domestic partners' can have access to benefits instead of 'spouses.' We are on a slippery slope here,” Inhofe said in a statement.

“Why would the DoD extend benefits to same-sex partners and then deny cohabiting heterosexual couples the same benefits?”

“The Department of Defense is essentially creating a new class of beneficiary that will increase costs and demand for limited resources that are currently available for military families, active and reserve forces, and retirees. President Obama continues to expand the government's financial obligations to support his liberal social agenda during a time when this Administration has imposed drastic budget cuts to our military readiness and national security.”