What Were They Thinking?
One Woman’s Opinion
By Sheri de Grom
In my opinion, the Department of Defense (DoD) has stepped over a line by giving ten days of uncharged leave to accommodate same-sex marriages.
The Pentagon attempts to defend their decision by saying the policy is about fairness, not generosity. I’m not accepting their weak defense.
The Pentagon asserts that only thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages, creating a hardship for U.S. servicemembers stationed in many parts of the world.
But, many military heterosexual couples also meet, develop relationships and subsequently marry. These heterosexual couples are forced to combine resources to overcome many of the same hardships as the same-sex couples. Rarely are the heterosexual couples from the same state. This means extra travel days if they wish to include their families in celebrating their wedding.
It’s always been understood that if a service member takes time off to get married, this time was not ‘free.’ It was charged to the soldier’s annual leave. Every soldier earns thirty days leave each calendar year.
Tom and I chose to marry in Carmel, California, at a location that was dear to both of us. This also meant we had the extra planning and expense of flying in family from several states.
I worked for the DoD and Tom was active-duty at the time. Neither of us thought of asking our commanders for free time. Instead we planned carefully and took three weeks of our own individual leave. It wouldn’t have been right for the tax-paying public to subsidize our wedding. And it’s not right that tax revenues be used to pay for vacation days for same-sex marriages.
The Supreme Court ruling in June knocked down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Along with housing stipends, health-care coverage and separation pay, the new rules allow commanders to grant free leave time—up to ten days for troops overseas, up to seven days for U.S.-based troops more than one hundred miles from a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.
IMO, this ruling goes well beyond simply recognizing same-sex couples in the ranks!
The Pentagon continues to defend their position by stating, “Gay servicemembers aren’t guaranteed the full seven or ten days off. The decisions on the amount of time granted will be made by their commanders, who will decide based on unit responsibilities and an individual’s personal situation.”
Pentagon officials have estimated that about 5,600 active-duty servicemembers and 3,400 guardsmen and reservists will apply for same-sex spousal benefits when they become available.
Is granting free leave a sound financial decision when we are downsizing our military?
I’d like to hear from you. What’s your opinion? Where do you stand on the issue of uncharged leave for same-sex marriage within the military?