The Pentagon on Tuesday announced that gay service members will
get as much as 10 days leave to marry.
The special leave of 7-10 days was proposed in a Defense
Department memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week.
Service members stationed in the U.S. will receive 7 days, while
those serving abroad will receive 10 days.
Gay couples can marry in 13 states plus the District of Columbia.
“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,” Hagel said in a memo to
secretaries of the military services.
The move comes in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that paved
the way for the federal government to recognize the legal marriages
of gay couples.
The Pentagon also canceled a declaration system for unmarried gay
couples and their children expected to go into effect this month.
“As the Supreme Court's ruling has made it possible for same-sex
couples to marry and be afforded all benefits available to any
military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the
unanimous advice of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that
the spousal and family benefits far outweigh the benefits that could
be extended under a declaration system,” Hagel said last week.
Opponents of marriage equality have already blasted the special
leave, calling it a “travesty.”
“[The Pentagon is] going to grant free 10 days of paid vacation
for these service members to go to a state where they do perform
same-sex 'marriages' so that they can come back to their duty
installation and claim marriage benefits,” Retired Lt. Col. Robert
Maginnis, a senior fellow for national security at the Christian
conservative Family Research Council (FRC), told One
News Now. “I believe that's a tragedy and a travesty as well.”