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House committee approves three anti-gay DADT, DOMA amendments

Keen News Service
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The full U.S. House Armed Services Committee approved three amendments late Wednesday night that seek to delay implementation of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to reiterate Congress’s support for the Defense of Marriage Act.

The votes were largely along partisan lines and are unlikely to be sustained in the Democratic-controlled Senate, even if they are approved by the Republican-dominated House.

But the question is whether they might survive a Senate-House conference committee, when compromises have to be hammered out between two increasingly contentious parties.

None of the proposed amendments sought to undo what Congress did last December when it passed legislation to repeal the military’s ban on openly gay people, but each provided yet another forum for debate over repeal.

The Committee debated for more than 40 minutes an amendment over whether to require that each of the Chiefs of the four combat branches of the military provide written certification to Congress before repeal can be implemented. The amendment passed 33 to 27.

It then debated for less than 20 minutes an amendment to reiterate that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) applies to the military. The amendment passed 39-22.

And it debated for 13 minutes an amendment to reiterate that decisions concerning use of military facilities and personnel for conducting same-sex wedding ceremonies are governed by DOMA. That amendment passed 38 to 23.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called the amendments “an assault on our nation’s senior military leaders and rank-and-file service members, who are marching toward open military service successfully.”

“These adopted amendments to delay and derail repeal are a partisan political attempt to interject the same-sex marriage debate and other unrelated social issues into the [budget authorization legislation] where they have no place,” said Sarvis.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the amendments were intended “to slow down open service and perpetuate scare tactics about the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

Three different Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee proposed the amendments during the full House Armed Services Committee consideration of the annual bill authorizing how the Department of Defense can spend its funding. The overall bill is known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 (or bill Number H.R. 1540). Fiscal Year 2012 begins October 1.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) first introduced his measure, called the “Restore Military Readiness Act,” as a stand-alone bill, in January. It has 25 co-sponsors. It seeks to require that certification of military readiness to implement repeal of the ban on gays in the military be done by the Chiefs of the four branches of the military, in addition to the certifications already required from the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hunter, in debate, claimed that “60 to 70 percent” of Navy Seals oppose repeal of DADT. The Seals have been the subject of enormous public attention and praise recently, after successfully capturing and killing terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.

Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee which received Hunter’s original measure, reminded the full committee that the four service branch chiefs testified at Congressional hearings that they believe their views are heard and respected by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) lamented that the House continues to debate the DADT repeal.

“Having openly gay people serve in our military is not apocalypse,” said Johnson, “it’s a sign of progress.” He also reminded committee members that when President Truman moved to integrate the military, there were some who opposed it.

“I think it’s a similar situation here with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said Johnson.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) read a letter from a gay veteran from World War II, supporting repeal of DADT.

Currently, President Obama, Gates, and Mullen are expected to certify the military as ready to implement repeal of DADT this summer. The repeal would then take effect 60 days later.

Given how difficult it has been for the Senate and House to agree on budget matters in recent months, it seems possible that the 60-day waiting period will expire and DADT will be repealed long before a Senate-House conference committee will have a chance to tackle the issues.

The second amendment came from Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). It seeks to emphasize that DOMA still applies to Defense Department regulations and policies. Hartzler said the amendment would address situations such as the recent conflict over whether Navy chaplains could preside over same-sex marriages and allow such ceremonies to take place on military bases.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and others claimed the amendment was necessary because the Obama administration was “not enforcing” DOMA, so it is necessary to reiterate Congress’s support for the law. No one spoke to correct that claim. The Obama administration made clear it would continue enforcing DOMA until such time as the courts may find it unconstitutional. But it did say it would no longer defend DOMA as passing all constitutional levels of scrutiny in all federal courts.

The third amendment, from Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), would prevent the use of military facilities or personnel for marriage ceremonies between same-sex couples. Akin’s amendment, like that of Hartzler, was in reaction to an April 13 memo from the Navy’s Chief of Chaplains recommending military facilities be available for use at same-sex marriage ceremonies in states where marriage licenses are available to same-sex couples. The Chief also recommended military chaplains be allowed to participate in such ceremonies, if their religious beliefs allow them to.

But on Tuesday, May 10, the Navy Chaplain Chief, Mark Tidd, “suspended” his earlier recommendations, saying they needed to undergo “additional legal and policy review and interdepartmental coordination.”

ABC News reported that a group of 63 Republicans had sent a letter to the Secretary of Navy, expressing objections to Tidd’s initial recommendations.

“Make no mistake,” said SLDN’s Sarvis, “these votes should be a wake-up call to supporters of open service that our work is not done. Our commitment to timely certification and repeal must be redoubled as we move to the House floor to defend the progress we have made to ensure that LGB patriots can defend and serve the country they love with honesty and integrity.”

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) was reportedly ready to introduce an amendment to delay implementation of DADT repeal in order to develop and issue new regulations concerning how to handle service members who have religious or moral objections to openly gay people in the military. He did not do so.

South Carolina

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10 more reader comments:

  1. Shame immigration wasnt thougjt of when amendments of doma .

    Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 10:00pm
  2. Heer’s exactly what Rep. Akin’s amendment #3 does:

    It would expand the original DOMA so as to prevent same-sex couples and their pastors from conducting private, religious ceremonies.

    If passed, the federal government then would guarantee that every heterosexual military couple and their chaplain may perform any private, religious wedding ceremony, but would deny the same exact right to every homosexual military couple.

    A century ago, states were outlawing private, religious weddings for bi-racial couples, but the Supreme Court declared all those laws unconstitutional on 12 June 1967.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 10:00pm
  3. DADT and DOMA should not have existed to begin with. It’s total discrimination. Written all over it. -_-

    Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 10:08pm
  4. Dislike!

    Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 10:43pm
  5. Republicans are fucking morons!

    Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 2:00am
  6. I keep popping in hoping to see a little substantiation with your personal opinions, but you folks never have any: No factual historical data, no empirical science, and no legal precedence.

    Your “who are you going to believe; me, or your lying eyes” routine has just about played itself out.

    [C]ertainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the coordinate States of the Union, than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.

    Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U.S. 15, 45 (1885).


    Was the 1967 Loving v Virginia ruling based on the 1967 definition of the ord marriage, or was it based on the expanded 1997 definition of the word marriage?

    Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 5:57am
  7. thats right my navy chief of chaplains doesnt care if gays get married on military installations because hes not a bigot and the republicans are messing with the service who do you think the secretary of the navy is going to listen to the damn civilian repubs or his chief of chaplains ? they can’t get over it but the truth is those of us in the military really don’t care who you are married to as long as you do your job. on a side not I wouldnt use the damn facilities on most bases because they suck. HOOYAH NAVY !!!

    Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 12:49pm
  8. I’m so disappointed on our legislators. They just want to create 2 types of citizens. Do they forget we are all the same. I just imagine them taking a shit. They do it exactly the same way I do it. Stupid morons.

    Posted on Friday, May 13, 2011 at 9:21am
  9. Openly gay males will never be accepted and will never gain promotion in elite all male combat units.

    FACT…policy can’t change the extremely conservative culture of the nation’s elite warrior class.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 2:16pm
  10. Ned…

    There is policy and there are the facts on the ground. You seem to rattle off laws and policy at the drop of a hat. But you clearly know nothing about the cultures of these units on the ground. Excluding support branches like the AF and Navy, the Army and Marine chaplain pastors core are extremely conservative. You are asking that these pastors go against everything they have ever known in the name of some leftie policy wonks in DC.

    Trust me…the Army and Marine chaplains will not marry gay members if they have a choice. They will only do so if forced. And then, half of them will retire or get out.

    Additionally, I expect most openly gay soldiers in the elite warrior units to be teased and made fun of on a regular basis. They better have thick skin. Don’t quote laws, either. The elite combat arms units operate under prison rules…IOW, its a dog eat dog world. If the gay soldiers cannot tolerate being made fun of, they don’t belong in the warrior class. FACT.

    In a nutshell, fa***ts are not welcome. Can you understand that policy statement? But the law…the law….right…again…you know nothing about elite combat arms units.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 2:23pm