Washington – The Obama administration is stepping up its courtship of active-duty military personnel and their families by offering them a free pass to all national parks, officials announced Tuesday.
The annual passes will be made available to members of the military free of charge beginning Saturday, Armed Forces Day, officials said. The pass, which usually costs $80, allows entrance to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.
The National Park Service estimated that giving away the annual passes to service members and their families will cost between $2 million and $6 million in lost revenue a year. The government usually collects about $150 million in annual park fees nationwide.
The free pass will be made available for activated members of the National Guard and Reserves but not for military veterans or retirees.
Presbytery rejects church’s official stance
San Anselmo, Calif. – Days after President Barack Obama announced support for same-sex marriage, the Presbyterian Church’s Northern California governing body refused to rebuke a retired minister for performing same-sex weddings.
The Presbytery of the Redwoods, which governs churches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, rejected the church’s official denunciation and overwhelmingly threw its support behind the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr.
Those in favor of and those against gay and lesbian unions called the 74-18 vote a historic event in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which like other mainstream Protestant denominations has been struggling with the issue of sexual orientation for decades. Spahr performed the same-sex weddings when they were legal in California.