Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma on Monday attacked the Obama administration’s extension of previously denied benefits to employees of the Defense Department, including same-sex couples.
“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, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
“Why would the DoD extend benefits to same-sex partners and then deny cohabiting heterosexual couples the same benefits?
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“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,” Inhofe added. “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.”
Earlier Monday, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expanded a list of benefits to the same-sex spouses of service members as well as to the unmarried partners of gay troops.
All the benefits had been previously denied by the Pentagon, NBC News reports. They also are automatically available to heterosexual military spouses.
The benefits include child care and member-designated hospital visits. They also include military ID cards, which give same-sex spouses and partners access to on-base commissaries, movie theaters and gyms.
The changes will take effect once training on the new rules is completed, Panetta said.
But the federal Defense of Marriage Act still blocks the agency from enacting more than 85 other benefits now provided to heterosexual military spouses and their children, NBC reports.
These include medical and dental care, housing allowances, and death benefits.
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