A little over a week ago, the Senate passed its version of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (S.1867), a bill that authorizes federal funding for the Department of Defense. The bill includes language concerning military chaplains. The amendment by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), which passed, reads: "A military chaplain who, as a matter of conscience or moral principle, does not wish to perform a marriage may not be required to do so." This amendment is essentially redundant, as DoD regulations already state that military chaplains do not have to perform marriages "if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs."
Last week, the conference committee, a group of legislators from both the House and Senate, was appointed to reconcile differences contained in both bills, including language introduced by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and passed in the House bill (H.R. 1540) in May . That language expands DOMA, disallowing the use of any DoD property for a same-sex ceremony, even in states that allow it. It would also bar chaplains, service members, and DoD civilian employees from participating in any same-sex ceremony, on or off base.
On Thursday, SLDN issued a letter to conference committee leaders, outlining our positions on a number of important issues, including the Wicker, Akin, and Hartzler provisions, as well as the repeal and amending of statutes related to sodomy and sexual assault. To view the full text of the letter, click here.
At SLDN, we will continue to work closely with the committees and staff to protect the gains we have made for LGBT service members. Please continue to visit the Frontlines Blog to get the latest updates.
12-12-11 By Jeremy Wilson-Simerman, SLDN Government Affairs Co-Director |