Target: Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense
Goal: Build on latest advancement for military homosexual couples to the point where they receive fully equal rights as military heterosexual couples.
The United States Congress recently passed legislation that will allow benefits for military same-sex partners and their dependents, such as access to special facilities and programs that used to only be permitted for heterosexual partners and their dependents. However, heterosexual couples still maintain more benefits than homosexual couples, largely due in part to laws passed many years ago. Congress has done a good thing by allowing homosexual couples the benefits they now have, but they must not stop until homosexual couples receive all of the same benefits as heterosexual couples.
Homosexual partners and their dependents now have access to many kinds of family-oriented facilities on military bases, such as child care programs, counseling programs, and recreational avenues. They have also been given the right to request identical assignments to their partner if both are serving in the military. But they still do not have equal housing opportunities, health care services, or educational benefits. A homosexual partner cannot request his or her partner’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery, nor receive visa-acquiring assistance or overseas benefits for a partner stationed internationally.
The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 is one of the main causes of this issue. Its words describe marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and thus effectively banned homosexual couples from receiving these listed benefits. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, as well as his likely successor Chuck Hagel, have both vowed to pursue expanded military benefits for same-sex couples. They must not lose sight of this goal. It is a good day when more rights are given to people who deserve them, but a great day when equal rights are given to people who deserve them. And that great day needs to arrive, and soon, with regard to this issue.
Dear Secretary Panetta,
You have done a great service to America by advancing the military-related rights for homosexuals in your country. They now receive more benefits and access to more programs and services than they ever have in the past. But the job here is not yet complete.
You cannot stop until equal rights have been provided for same-sex couples with regard to this issue. Heterosexual couples still receive far more military-related benefits, to the point where the discrepancy is still alarming even with the recent advances. This is why you cannot consider your task complete.
Even if the job cannot be finished while you are still in office, you must do whatever you can to ensure that the mission is continued after you depart. This is a very important human rights issue, and you need to do the right thing and ensure that everything possible that can be done to reach equality gets done. Thank you for what you have done so far, but it is necessary for you to keep fighting.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: ~kmarco100 via DeviantArt