The Republican-led House on Friday
approved a defense bill which includes two anti-gay amendments.
The annual National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA) was approved with a 299 to 120 vote and now
heads to the Senate. The White House has threatened a veto over the
bill's $642 billion price tag – $8 billion higher than Congress
agreed to last summer.
One amendment offered by Rep. Todd
Akin, a Republican from Missouri, protects chaplains who refuse to
marry gay couples.
“Liberals may have successfully ended
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' but they should not be allowed to force
members of our military to give up their religious beliefs,” Akin
said in a statement. “That is simply unacceptable and and
A second measure bans gay marriage on
any military facility. It says bases “may not be used to
officiate, solemnize, a marriage, or marriage-like ceremony” that
is not between a heterosexual couple.
Military officials opened the door to
such ceremonies last year. Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel
and Readiness Clifford Stanley wrote in a memo that chaplains may
officiate the marriage and civil union ceremonies of gay couples,
including on a military installation, but are not required to.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest lobby group
representing gay troops, expressed disappointment.
“At SLDN, we are disappointed that
this language is a part of the House defense bill,” Sarvis said in
a statement. “The fact of the matter is, there are already in
place adequate protections for chaplains and service members in this
area. This language weakens implementation of 'Don't Ask, Don't
Tell' repeal, which Americans support and which our nation's military
leaders have said is being implementing smoothly.”
“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,” he added.
White House officials called the
anti-gay amendments “troublesome and potentially unconstitutional,”
The Los Angeles Times reported.