How taxpayer dollars are spent is usually considered a "fiscal," not "social" issue. But what if a social issue is pressured onto overburdened taxpayers to subsidize? Does a social issue then become a fiscal issue?
Take for example Lt. General Jerry Boykin's alert from Family Research Council Tuesday, that calls for taxpayers to fund the time off same-sex couples take for destination weddings. The Pentagon wants to give special, taxpayer-funded bonuses to those couples -- including a benefit that is not even available to heterosexual couples.
In the recent case of United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down as unconstitutional one section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Section 3 of DOMA defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman for all purposes of federal law, regardless of a state's definition of marriage.
On the face of it, General Boykin writes, all this ruling meant was that same-sex couples who: 1) have already gotten legally "married" in a state or country that permits such "marriages;" and 2) now live in a state that recognizes such couples as "married;" must be granted the same benefits from the federal government that opposite-sex couples receive.
"Now, however, the Department of Defense has gone much further," Boykin says. "In a pair of memos released on August 13, they announced that a service member who wants to enter a same-sex "marriage," but is posted more than 100 miles from a state that allows same-sex 'marriages,' will be granted seven days of extra paid leave (ten days if posted outside the continental United States) just to travel to their wedding."
This special leave -- only for destination weddings of homosexual couples -- is above and beyond the regular annual leave granted to every service member. How much does this cost the American taxpayer? For ten days' work, a captain (with six years' experience) earns $1,787.20 in base pay alone - that's not even accounting for benefits like housing allowance, health care, etc. And this special taxpayer-funded leave is only available for same-sex "weddings" -- heterosexuals need not apply, Boykin writes.
This special treatment is not required by the repeal of the 1993 law on homosexuality in the military referred to as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell;" it is not required by the Supreme Court's Windsor decision; and it is fundamentally unequal and unfair. In a time of sequestration and severe cuts to the military, the Pentagon should be in the business of strengthening our troops, not on same-sex "wedding" planning.
The National Defense Authorization Bill for 2014, which would fund these unfair bonuses, now awaits action in the U.S. Senate.
Boykin urges taxpayers concerned about this development to contact their Senators and urge them to amend the bill to remove any unequal treatment from the bill -- in this case, a taxpayer-funded wedding bonus from the Pentagon afforded on the basis of sexual orientation."