LGBT Groups Increase Pressure On Defense Department Over Benefits
LGBT organization leaders have begun publicly expressing their growing frustration at the pace of the Pentagon in addressing the way the military treats the partners and families of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members. LGBT organizations have been seeking the changes for sometime, but they have kept their campaign largely behind the scenes, hoping that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would take action. But in recent weeks — and as Panetta is preparing to leave the Pentagon — leaders have begun to believe he is, in the words of the Human Rights Campaign, "dragging [his] heels on equality" and are now ratcheting up the pressure. On Wednesday, HRC launched a public action calling on people to send letters to Panetta and headlined: "Sec. Panetta: Stop dragging your heels on equality!" Hours later, OutServe-SLDN, which is the largest LGBT military group and has been pushing the Pentagon to act on partner benefits issues since the month before DADT repeal took effect, praised Panetta for action on ending the categorical ban on women in combat roles.