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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 21
Senate committee passes NDAA without harmful amendments
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Senate committee passes NDAA without harmful amendments

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On May 24, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) passed its annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) without adopting numerous anti-LGBT amendments in the House version of the bill.

The Republican-controlled House had sought to limit the use of military facilities for same-sex unions, encourage military chaplains to discriminate, and undermine successful 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal implementation.

Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis praised Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Senate for keeping those provisions out of the annual defense spending bill.

'SLDN and our allies have been working on Capitol Hill this year to encourage the Senate Armed Services Committee to pass a common-sense defense spending bill that does not seek to turn the clock back on the progress we have made in this first year of implementation of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal.

'We now turn our attention to making sure the full Senate passes the committee bill and that the harmful language included in the House version is stripped away in conference committee,' said Sarvis.

The House passed its version of the NDAA on May 18 and included two harmful amendments put forth by opponents of LGBT military equality. The first would give so-called 'conscience protections' to chaplains and service members who do not wish to minister or work with Gay and Lesbian service members. A threat to military readiness and unit cohesion, this amendment would allow service members to actively harass their comrades for their perceived or actual sexual orientation. It would allow chaplains to discriminate against service members by religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other category simply by arguing that ministering to them would be contrary to their 'conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs.'

A second amendment in the House version of the bill would limit the use of Defense Department property for same-gender marriage ceremonies.

'The Department of Defense has already made it clear - and appropriately so - that decisions about the use of facilities should be made on a sexual-orientation-neutral basis,' said Sarvis.

'This is yet another attempt by a few opponents of military equality who are looking to turn the clock back on progress and relegate Gay and Lesbian service members to second-class status.'

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