By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com July 25 2012 6:10 PM ET
U.S. military personnel in San Diego finally got to wear their uniforms to march in that city’s gay pride parade this year — but some members of Congress think that was a bad idea, saying pride parades are by nature “political and partisan” and a means of advancing the Obama administration’s “social agenda.”
One of them is Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who yesterday sent Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta a letter questioning Panetta’s decision to allow uniformed troops in the parade. As the troops are forbidden to “march or ride in a partisan political parade,” Inhofe wrote, therefore the Defense Department should “preclude service members in uniform from marching in a gay pride parade.”
A press release on the Republican senator’s website added, “Inhofe is concerned the Obama administration continues to force its liberal social agenda on the military by promoting the homosexual agenda, mandating the use of high-cost green energy initiatives, pursuing abortion rights, and suppressing the free exercise of religious liberties.”
ThinkProgress blogger Zack Ford commented that “Inhofe clearly (and unsurprisingly) does not even possess the most basic understanding of LGBT Pride. There is nothing inherently partisan or political about a Pride parade — it is a celebration of life and community. Wearing a military uniform in a Pride parade is no more political than wearing one to a heterosexual wedding.” And if the issue of LGBT rights is partisan, Ford adds, it’s because of the Republican Party’s “near-uniform opposition to equality.”
Randy Forbes, a Republican representative from Virginia, also objected to Panetta’s directive. “This decision was an outrageous and blatantly political determination issued solely to advance this Administration’s social agenda,” he said in a press release issued Tuesday.