House GOP Advances Religious Right to Condemn Gay Soldiers
House Republicans in the Armed Services Committee have again attached amendments to defense budget legislation to shore up servicemembers and chaplains’ right to condemn gays in the military per their religious beliefs, and another amendment to ban gay marriages being conducted on base.
“The president has repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is using the military as props to promote his gay agenda,” said Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who is running for Senate.
The committee, on a vote of 37-24, backed an amendment that barred same-sex marriages or “marriage-like” ceremonies on military installations. The panel also endorsed an Akin amendment that said the services should accommodate the rights of conscience of members of the services and chaplains who are morally or religiously opposed to expressions of human sexuality.
“Members of this committee are looking to turn back the clock and find new ways to discriminate against gay and lesbian service members,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the committee. “These men and women serve with honor and distinction and this amendment sends a message that their service is not valued.”
The legislation, called the `Military Religious Freedom Protection Act’ (HR 3828), would “amend title 10, [of the] United States Code, to require that implementation of the repeal of the former Department of Defense policy concerning homosexual behavior in the Armed Forces not infringe upon the free exercise of religion by and the rights of conscience of members of the Armed Forces, including chaplains, and for other purposes.”
This legislation, introduced in January, serves to mirror a bill filed last year in the House.
The Pentagon has repeatedly said that, as a matter of religious and civil freedom, chaplains may officiate the marriages of same-sex couples in states where marriage equality is legal, but per established law they are not forced to do so.