Debate Over Gay Marriage Leave Heats Up

Readers of Tom Philpott's Military Update Column Sound Off

I find it hard to believe only dissenting opinions were sent to Military Forum regarding the decision to grant extra leave to those who wish to get married to same sex spouses. 

Personally, I was mildly off-put by the idea because it does not seem fair to others who would indeed like this benefit.  But when you take into account that there are a limited number of places where these people can get married, and that it only applies if they live where same sex marriage is banned, well then it really is fair.

Stop your whining people.  The military of today is not the military of years gone by.  It is less racist, less sexist and more inclusive, resilient and fair.  It is a place I love.

DAKOTA SCHUMAKER Sergeant, Ohio Army National Guard Via email

The immediate wave of comments was entirely negative.  Since then it has been more mixed as your comment and some others, below, show. – Tom Philpott

I have absolutely nothing against gay or lesbian military personnel.  I take exception, though, to them getting extra non-charged leave.

When I married I took leave that was charged to me.  How is it that they rate uncharged leave?

This is about being fair and equal, but it is turning out to be not fair or equal.

As usual, the Department of Defense is doing the whole knee-jerk-reaction-thing instead of thinking things out and looking through a bigger scope.


I read the one-sided blast in Military Forum against gays being given leave to go to another state to marry.

I am very saddened by people like Chaplain Michael Payne who wrote bigoted nonsense.  The writers fail to understand this policy of "free leave" is only temporary.  Eventually, all states will be required to recognize gay marriage and the added leave will be unnecessary. 

I have a suggestion to veterans against the policy, though bigotry will prevent this from happening: Write to your elected state officials and ask them to endorse gay marriage.

Marriage leave only applies to people stationed in states that do not allow gay marriage, which means fewer and fewer military members will be eligible and eventually none will.  The solution is for states to stop discriminating.

To Chaplain Payne: Virginia has a huge military population, as you know, which means you can start by contacting your Republican governor.

DOUGLAS PECK USN-Ret Emeryville, Calif.

The stated rationale for special marriage leave is that gays must travel to states where gay marriage is legal.  If we Neanderthals living here in the State of Kansas would all just legalize gay marriage, the problem would not exist, and to hell with the will of the people!

I served 30 years in the Air Force with a lot of duty stations.  There were many times I wanted to visit someplace else for personal reasons.  I was charged leave to do so.  Just what is the difference between a gay person wanting to go someplace where gay marriage is legal, and my wanting to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?

A lot of commentators on the issue blame [Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel.  The buck stops higher than that, with a President so busy catering to every special interest group he can find to solidify the Democrat Party's political power that he cares nothing about the impact on the country.

We have serious enough financial problems to force a gutting of the U.S. military, with the willing collusion of Army General [Martin] Dempsey et al., but we have money to grant uncharged leave.

If the politically correct leadership of DOD don't recognize it, let me point out that uncharged leave remains an accrued benefit with a monetary value that will be paid out one way or another.  It is not free.

JIM O'CONNELL Colonel, USAF-Ret. Via email

I blame our generals for what's going on in our military today.  They have shown no backbone in standing up to the current administration. We have a commander-in-chief who has no idea about serving the country, and no understanding of military honor and tradition.

Our top generals seem to be only too interested in pleasing their civilian bosses.  This administration wants "yes" people to carry through their liberal agenda, which is polarizing our country and affecting military morale.

These generals need to realize their first priority is to the troops they lead.  When the administration tries to make changes that damage military tradition and harm morale, then they need to speak out, and to resign if they advice is ignored by the politicians. 


I am a veteran and gay.  When all states in this country embrace our birthright, then marriage leave will not be necessary.

Why should gays have to take extra leave to get married?  It is not our fault this country is not equal opportunity for all.

Shame on anyone who thinks they are getting unfair treatment. Haven't we gay service members put up with enough?

TAJ G. Via email

Last year while my son and I were on deployment, my daughter-in-law, his wife, passed away from a complication during pregnancy.

To return, we were both charged for emergency leave.  My son took an extra few days and was told if he didn't have enough time accumulated at time of his discharge, he would have to pay back the days.

If the military is going to charge leave accounts for emergency leave, then everyone should be charged leave.

ROGER WOODWORTH Sergeant First Class, Retired Via email

I am a Marine no longer on active service.  I did two tours in Iraq and I served my country proudly.  I understand gay rights and I want them to get the same benefits their fellow active duty members and vets deserve.

The military did away with hitting recruits in the early '70s because  "Mothers of America" interfered.  It's one reason our military, including myself, became weak.  They now hand out stress cards in boot camp so recruits don't get stressed out.

And now DoD will grant special time off for gay marriages?

When I came back from my first seven-month deployment with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, my base was on lockdown because 9/11.  I missed my daughter's birth, one of the most important days of this Marine's life.  I can't get it back.

But this group can take seven days off to get married which will not count against their leave.

  The military is our nation's backbone.  Bearing tremendous burdens is what personnel signed up for.  We sacrifice a lot, and some sacrifice all.  And our sacrifices are slowly being diminished by special treatment tied to social idealism.  It's another way our military is losing its moral fabric.


These conservative nut jobs who comment in Military Forum have conveniently forgotten all the previous decades of tyranny, disrespect, abuse, violence, murder and complete disallowance of gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who have serve this country.

Let's face the fact that homosexuals in the military have been grossly mistreated as less than human beings.  Straight people did that, and some gay people too.

So they deserve something.  And since all states don't recognize same-sex marriage, perhaps this special form of gratitude can get that conversation moving forward.

FRANK MYERS USN-Ret. Via email

What's next?  Adding points to their [bonus] multiple for being gay?

FRED G. Via email

I would never recommend military service today to anyone.  The knee jerk embrace of anything politically correct is sickening.  I'm glad I got out in 1995 after 20 years.

BARRY WILLIAMS Chief Warrant 3, USA-Ret. Via email

Unfortunately those complaining about marriage leave do so on a fairness theme to divide the ranks.

The socialist gang has no use for the military but can't do a lot up front.  So they latch on to an issue that has popular support and they are having a field day with it.

FRED E. Via email

Letters may be edited for clarity or length.  Write to Military Forum, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA 20120-1111, send e-mail to or visit

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