Republican lawmakers are blasting the Pentagon's decision to allow troops to march in uniform at a San Diego gay-pride parade last week.
Two senior Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees said Tuesday that the Pentagon was out of line to grant the one-time exemption that allowed military uniforms in the parade.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said the Pentagon made a “dangerous exception” to its policy of not allowing military uniforms in parades. In a statement, the Armed Forces Readiness subcommittee chairman said that the decision was made to advance the Obama administration’s social agenda.
“I am calling on the DOD to halt these dangerous exceptions to policy for political purposes. This decision was an outrageous and blatantly political determination issued solely to advance this administration’s social agenda,” Forbes said in a statement Tuesday.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking for an explanation behind making the exemption in light of the military's "unambiguous regulations" to preserve its apolitical stance.
"If the Navy can punish a chaplain for participating in a pro-life event or a Marine participating in a political rally, it stands to reason that DOD should maintain the same standard and preclude service members in uniform from marching in a gay-pride parade," Inhofe said. "I respectfully request a detailed explanation of the rationale you used to grant this ‘one-time waiver’ of DOD policy, who requested the waiver, why this waiver was considered justified over other requests, and whether you are considering other exceptions to current policy.”
Both Inhofe and Forbes said that the Pentagon’s decision to allow the service members to participate in the parade in uniform was in clear violation of Defense Department rules on participation in political activities while in uniform.
Forbes pointed to a press release from San Diego LGBT Pride that said the inclusion of military uniforms was helping celebrate the “growing list of states with marriage equality.”
The Pentagon said last week that it was allowing an exemption for military personnel to wear their uniforms at the San Diego parade but that the exemption only covered that parade, and not future events.
— This story was updated at 3:55 p.m.