House Adopts Harmful Measures in Defense Appropriations Bill
For immediate release:
Friday, July 20, 2012
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(WASHINGTON, DC) Army veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis today responded to the House passage of the 2013 Defense Appropriations bill, H.R. 5856, that includes provisions put forth by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), prohibiting the use of funds in the bill in contravention of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). King claims his language would prevent chaplains from performing same-sex religious ceremonies and would prevent military property from being used for such ceremonies.
"This language put forth by Congressman King would do nothing new. No funds can ever be spent in contravention of federal law. With this amendment, the Congressman is wasting Congress' time and energy by restating current law in an attempt to infringe upon the rights of chaplains to practice their own faith and relegate gay and lesbian service members to second-class status by restricting their use of military facilities," said Sarvis.
"Clearly, Congressman King doesn't understand what the Defense of Marriage Act actually does. It does not prohibit a chaplain from performing a same-sex ceremony that is consistent with the tenets of his or her faith, and it does not prevent the use of military facilities for private religious ceremonies. If the Congressman wants a debate about the inequalities thrust upon America's gay and lesbian service members by DOMA, let's have that debate. But perhaps, he should first undertake a review of the law and come to the debate prepared," said Sarvis.
SLDN has filed landmark litigation in federal court in October 2011 challenging DOMA and three other areas of federal law that prevent the military from providing equal recognition and support to same-sex military spouses. SLDN also strongly supports new legislation put forth by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) - the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act - that would clear a path for equal benefits for gay and lesbian service members, veterans, and their families.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. Since 1993, our in-house legal team has responded to more than 11,000 requests for assistance. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100.