House Continues to Defy Reason, Making Anti-LGBT Amendments a Priority
July 6, 2011 by Ty Cobb, Director, HRC Global
As of noon today, three anti-LGBT amendments to the FY 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill were filed. These amendments make it clear that House Republicans distrust our military leaders when it comes to lesbians and gays in the military. The House is debating the bill on the floor this week. These amendments may be offered for debate and votes as early as tonight, but are more likely to be considered on Thursday. Other anti-LGBT amendments could also be offered even if they have not been pre-filed.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) filed an amendment that would restate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the current law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing lawfully married same-sex couples. As much as we dislike DOMA, no one disagrees that it is currently the law of the land. It is troubling that Rep. Foxx would question whether our military leaders understand this point.
In addition, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) filed an amendment that would prohibit appropriated funds from being used to permit a civil union or marriage ceremony unless it complies with the definition of a marriage in DOMA. It also prohibits appropriated funds from being used to permit any such ceremonies on any land under the Defense Department's jurisdiction unless it complies with the definition of a marriage in DOMA.
DOMA does not prohibit same-sex marriages or civil unions. It does not prohibit military chaplains from officiating same-sex marriages or civil unions. And, it does not prohibit same-sex marriages or civil unions from being performed on federal property. This amendment represents an unprecedented expansion of DOMA and unneeded micromanaging of the Defense Department’s facility policies. In addition, it restricts military chaplains from exercising their First Amendment right to perform same-sex marriages or civil unions if their faith traditions recognize such unions.
An amendment expanding DOMA was not enough for Rep. Burton. He filed a second amendment that would prohibit the Defense Department from providing training on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to military personnel in combat zones. Military leaders are in the best position to determine when service members should receive “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal training. Rep. Burton’s amendment takes this discretion out of the hands of military leaders and substitutes his own biased beliefs for their wisdom and experience.
These three amendments demonstrate the wrong-headed priorities of anti-LGBT House members. Poll after poll recognizes that these are not the issues that struggling Americans prioritize. It is time for the House to wake up and recognize that we have bigger fish to fry than increasing discrimination against lesbians and gays in the military. Stay tuned to HRC BackStory for updates on any additional amendments filed.
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