Sen. Inhofe Demands Panetta Explain Why He Allowed Military to March in Uniform in Gay Pride Parade

July 24, 2012 - 4:49 PM

James Inhofe at SASC hearing

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) addresses a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. (Photo: Inhofe Web site)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, demanded that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explain why the Pentagon allowed uniformed service members to participate in this past weekend’s "gay pride" parade in San Diego.

The Pentagon said last week that it would allow approximately 300 military personnel wearing uniforms to march in the San Diego parade, but that it was not making a blanket exception for the future.

In a letter to Panetta sent Tuesday,  however, Inhofe said the move was a clear violation of the long-time ban on military personnel marching in a political parade in uniform.

“Based on the current standing DOD Directive 1344.10 and separate service department regulations, service members ‘shall not march or ride in a partisan political parade,’” Inhofe wrote.

“These directives and regulations are unambiguous and straight forward with the intent of preserving the military’s apolitical stance,” he added.

Military March in San Diego Gay Pride Parade

Military personnel march in uniform at the San Diego Gay Pride parade, Saturday, June 21, 2012. (AP photo)

Inhofe requested the Defense secretary provide a “a detailed explanation of the rationale you used to grant this ‘one time waiver’ of DOD policy,” including “who requested the waiver, why this waiver was considered justified over other requests, and whether you are considering other exceptions to current policy.”

The conservative senior senator from Oklahoma said that the military seems to be promoting a liberal social agenda with the move. He noted that religious believers in the military have been punished for participating in political events.

“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,” he wrote.