Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the
House Armed Services Committee, has said he would rather pass no
defense bill at all than one which doesn't ban marriage for gay and
lesbian service members.
Late last month Under Secretary of
Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley issued a memo
which stated that chaplains may officiate the marriage and civil
union ceremonies of gay couples in states where it's legal, including
those taking place on military installations.
The issue had previously surfaced and
the House responded in May by attaching a provision to the defense
bill that bans such unions.
During an appearance on cabler C-Span's
Newsmakers to air Sunday,
McKeon told host John Donnelly of Congressional Quarterly that
he would rather see the bill fail than have the marriage provision
stripped. McKeon also wants a provision that seeks to direct
suspected terrorists into military custody.
“It's a give and take process,”
McKeon said, referring to the process of reconciliation between the
House and the Senate.
“It's a give and take process, but
you're not going to give on those two issues,” Donnelly asked.
“Right,” McKeon answered after a
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called McKeon's threat
“It's nothing short of shameful that
the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, charged with
protecting and authorizing funding for our nation's service members
at war, would be willing to put at risk the equipment and supplies
they need in order to advance his narrow, social agenda,” Sarvis
said in a statement.