House Acts to Mitigate the Consequences of LGBT Law in the Military

Obama Administration Disregards Congressional Concerns About LGBT Law  

On July 22, late on a Friday afternoon, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen signed a piece of paper purporting to “certify” that repeal of the 1993 law regarding gays in the military, usually mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” would do no harm to the armed forces.  

As CMR stated in a news release, the timing of this event on a Friday afternoon signaled that the action was nothing to be proud of.  The document signed has no credibility, but it will have harmful consequences.  From this time forward President Obama owns the San Francisco/LGBT military he has created.

The House of Representatives of the 112th Congress has expressed concern about the repeal of Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C. by passing three amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, and two more in the National Defense Appropriations Act for 2012.  These amendments, if passed into law, will not eliminate the most problematic consequences of LGBT law, but they help to mitigate some damage to the military until the political situation changes.  

The amendments reflect concerns of Congress that the administration should not ignore.

A.  House Armed Services Committee Protects Marriage and Combat Effectiveness

1.  The Akin Amendment:  Despite previous Pentagon promises to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the military, Rear Adm. Mark. L. Tidd, the Navy Chief of Chaplains, issued a memo on April 13, 2011 titled “Revision of Chaplain Corps Tier 1 Training.”   The memo, self-described as “not a change” but a “clearer, more concise and up to date articulation,” actually revised earlier training instructions radically, in order to authorize same-sex marriages in Navy and Marine Corps facilities located in states where such unions are legal.  Following the initial CNSNews report, titled Navy Authorizes Chaplains to Perform Same-Sex ‘Marriages’ in Naval Chapels, a firestorm quickly ensued:

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) immediately responded by writing a stiff  letter of protest to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, co-signed by 62 of his colleagues. 

“Mr. Secretary, we find it unconscionable that the United States Navy, a federal entity sworn to ‘preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States,’ believes it is their place alone to train and direct members of their service to violate federal law…It is not the place of any citizen of this country to pick and choose which laws they are going to obey.”

A few days later, the Navy tried but failed to do damage control.  The Washington Post reported the second memorandum, suggesting that it reversed the Navy’s previous memo announcing training for same-sex marriage.  However, the actual memo from DoD Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Robert T. Cali only “suspended” the policy pending coordination with the other services and more review by legal counsel.

As CMR stated in a news release, House committee members were not swayed by the Navy’s weather-vane policies and equivocation. 

Congressman Akin sponsored and successfully passed an amendment barring same-sex marriages on military bases. (38-23)

Akin Amendment (Sect. 535): Prohibits same-sex marriages on military bases (Passed 38-23) (a) LIMITATION ON USE.—A military installation or other property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense may be used as the site for a marriage ceremony only if the marriage complies with the definition of marriage in section 7 of title 1, United States Code.” (Defense of Marriage Act)

2.  The Hartzler Amendment:  Taking a step further, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) sponsored and passed an amendment to create a military version of the Defense of Marriage Act, or “M-DOMA,” to define marriage as the bond between one man and one woman.  The Hartzler amendment passed on a bi-partisan vote. (39-22) 

Hartzler Amendment (Sect. 534) : To define marriage in military policies (Passed 39-22) “Congress reaffirms the policy of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, codified as section 7 of title 1, United States Code. In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the Department of Defense applicable to members of the Armed Forces or civilian employees of the Department of Defense, the word ‘‘marriage’’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘‘spouse’’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

3.  The Hunter Amendment: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) also passed a measure that would expand and possibly slow the process of implementing repeal of the 1993 law.  Under Hunter’s amendment, the four Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy, Air Force the Marine Corps would be required to “certify” that repeal of the 1993 law would not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, and morale of units and personnel that are engaged in combat, deployed to, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater.  (33-27)

Hunter Amendment: (Sect. 533): All service chiefs must certify repeal of DADT (Passed 33-27)  “The Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force each submit to the congressional defense committees the officer’s written certification that repeal of section 654 of title 10, United States Code, will not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, and morale of combat arms units and personnel of the Armed Force under the officer’s jurisdiction engaged in combat, deployed to a combat theater, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater.”

The Obama Administration expressed strong displeasure with Congressional action by issuing a formal statement of opposition to all three amendments mandating congressional oversight:

CMR and organizations affiliated with the Military Culture Coalition appreciate HASC Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson, and Representatives Akin, Hartzler, and Hunter who stepped up to sponsor the three amendments.  All three were passed as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Bill, which was referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 6.

B.  House National Defense Appropriations Act Prohibits Funding for Same-Sex Marriage

The House of Representatives has approved two amendments to the Defense Appropriations Bill, H.R. 2219, which affirm congressional support for traditional marriage and for religious liberty.         

4.  The Foxx Amendment:  The first amendment, sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), would ensure that defense dollars are not used to implement military policy changes that violate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  This is the text of the concise amendment and an analysis of it:  

“No funds under the act may be used for activities in contravention of Public Law 104-199, the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Foxx-Burton Amendment re Defense Funds and the DOMA

On Thursday, July 7, the Foxx-Burton Amendment passed on an overwhelming 248-175 vote (see Roll Call). 

  • Nineteen Democrats voted for the Foxx-Burton amendment: Jason Altmire (PA), John Barrow (GA), Rob Bishop (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Ben Chandler (KY), Jerry Costello (IL),  Mark Critz (PA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Joe Donnelly (IN, Gene Green (TX), Tim Holden (PA), Mike McIntyre (NC), Jim Matheson (UT), Daniel Lipinski (IL), Larry Kissell (NC), Collin Peterson (MN), Nick Rahall (WV), Mike Ross (AR), and Heath Shuler (NC).   
  • Six Republicans voted against: Judy Biggert (IL), Mary Bono Mack (CA), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Richard Hanna (NY), Nan Hayworth (NY), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL).
  • Democrats Not Voting: Cardoza, Giffords, Payne, and Towns.  Republicans Not Voting:  Cantor, Culberson, Gibbs, and Sullivan.

5.  The Huelskamp Amendment:  Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) also sponsored a successful amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill. The legislation reads:

“None of the funds made available to this Act may be used to implement the curriculum of the Chaplain Corps Tier 1 DADT repeal training, dated April 11, 2011.”

This amendment is similar to the Akin Amendment described above.  The legislation became necessary when the Department of the Navy signaled a willingness to authorize and train chaplains for same-sex marriages in a memo issued by the Chief of Chaplains on April 11, 2011.  Rep. Todd Akin and 62 of his colleagues sent a letter of protest to the Secretary of the Navy, pointing out that the Navy’s training revision conflicted with assurances given with regard to enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act.  

The Navy suspended but did not revoke the policy, pending further review and coordination with the other services.  As Rep. Huelskamp stated in a July 6 letter, his amendment would ensure continuation of a “consistent policy on marriage.”

On Friday, July 8, the Huelskamp Amendment passed, 236-184.  (See Roll Call)

  • Nine Democrats voted in favor of the Huelskamp Amendment: amendment: John Barrow (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Joe Donnelly (IN, Tim Holden (PA), Mike McIntyre (NC), Larry Kissell (NC), Jim Matheson (UT), Collin Peterson (MN, and Mike Ross (AR).
  • Nine Republicans voted Against:  Justin Amash (MI), Judy Biggert (IL), Mary Bono Mack (CA), Robert Dold (IL), Richard Hanna (NY), Nan Hayworth (NY), Leonard Lance (NJ), Patrick Meehan (PA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL).
  • Democrats Not Voting: Cardoza, Crowley, Giffords, Hinchey, Jackson Lee (TX), Payne, Rangel, and Rush.  Republicans Not Voting:  Campbell, Culberson, and Graves (MO).

The Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills will go to conference committees, which will produce final versions for votes in the House and Senate.  It will be important for the 112th Congress to retain the five amendments described above as the two defense bills go through this process.  

 

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