BY DONNA CASSATA, ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans challenged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday to explain why the Defense Department allowed active-duty troops to wear their uniforms while marching in San Diego's gay pride parade last weekend.
In a letter to Panetta, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said department rules bar service members from participating in political activities while in uniform and pressed Panetta on why a waiver was granted, who requested it and why it was considered over others.
Inhofe, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, also pointed out that administrative action has been taken against service members who have violated the rule.
"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 the Defense Department should maintain the same standard and preclude service members in uniform from marching in a gay pride parade," Inhofe wrote.