The House on Thursday approved a
defense bill that includes an amendment that seeks to derail repeal
of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bans gay and
bisexual troops from serving openly.
The 2012 defense authorization bill
cleared the House with an overwhelming 322 to 96 vote.
California Representative Duncan
Hunter's amendment, which was attached to the bill in the House Armed
Services Committee two weeks ago, alters the terms under which the
law is lifted.
Congress approved repeal of the law
during its lame-duck session in December. As approved, the military
would implement repeal of the law 60 days after President Barack
Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen –
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – certify that the
military is ready for the change. In testimony before Congress last
month, Pentagon officials said they expect the policy to be lifted
Hunter's measure would require the four
service chiefs also sign off on repeal of the policy.
The Republican first announced the
measure in January, soon after the officials offered testimony in
support of keeping the law in place and condemned repeal in
Marine Corps Commandant General James
Amos was the most vocal, but Air Force and Army chiefs also expressed
concerns over ending the policy.
Amos suggested that soldiers might die
if Congress repeals “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”
in testimony before Congress last month, Amos reversed course,
saying “there hasn't been the recalcitrant push back, there hasn't
been the anxiety over it from the forces in the field”
“And I'm looking specifically for
issues coming out of the tier II and tier III training and to be
honest with you, chairman, we've not seen it,” Amos testified.
Two additional anti-gay amendments were
attached to the bill in committee.
Missouri Representative Vicky
Hartzler's amendment would define marriage as a union between a man
and woman for the purpose of military benefits, regulations and
A third amendment would prohibit gay
and lesbian couples from marrying on military bases and ban military
personnel from participating in such ceremonies. Missouri
Representative Todd Akin offered his measure after the Navy announced
that chaplains would be allowed to officiate at gay marriages and
civil union ceremonies once “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is lifted.
and 63 members of the Republican caucus forced the Navy to
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the
White House announced it was opposed to the three amendments,
reiterating that it believes the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is
“The Administration strongly objects
to any legislative attempts to directly or indirectly undermine,
prevent, or delay the implementation of [DADT] repeal, as such
efforts create uncertainty for servicemembers and their families.”