News (USA)

U.S. House approves defense spending bill with three anti-gay amendments

U.S. House approves defense spending bill with three anti-gay amendments

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes three controversial, anti-gay amendments that seek to delay implementation of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and reaffirm Congress’ support for the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Washington Blade reports:

By a vote of 322-96, the Republican-controlled House approved the fiscal year 2012 defense authorization bill after three days of debate that discussed continued military operations in Afghanistan, funding for next-generation military programs and increased pay rates for U.S. troops.

Among the many provisions of the defense authorization bill is anti-gay language that the House Armed Services Committee inserted upon consideration of the legislation.

The first of the three amendments was sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) requires that — in addition to the certifications already required from the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — all four military service chiefs also certify that implementation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal would not impact combat readiness.

The second amendment, from Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), reaffirms that DOMA still applies to Defense Department regulations and policies. In effect, this amendment only reaffirms the discrimination of DOMA, as it already applies to DOD.

The third amendment, from Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), prohibits the use of military facilities or personnel for marriage ceremonies between same-sex couples, and also prohibits military chaplains or civilian Defense Department employees from officiating gay weddings.

Although the House approved the defense spending bill with the anti-gay amendments, passing such a measure into law would be challenging because the Democratic-controlled Senate would have to agree to the anti-gay language during conference negotiations.

“The passage of the defense authorization bill with these hostile amendments included comes as no surprise, and it should not become a cause for concern as long as our allies in the Senate and the President all stand strong and refuse to support a defense bill containing these amendments.” said Alex Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United, in a statement.

The four openly gay members of Congress — Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) — all voted “no” on the bill.

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