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Thursday, May 19, 2011

DADT Debrief: Harmful amendments passed


Early this morning, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) concluded an exhaustive 16-hour session debating the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Despite the volume of pressing current issues facing our nation’s military and indeed, our national security, opponents of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) repeal simply would not let this settled issue lie. As we feared and warned supporters of repeal over the last few weeks, the HASC passed harmful amendments aimed at delaying and derailing repeal implementation and attacking LGBT dignity.

These amendments jab at various aspects of repeal:
  • Rep. Todd Akin's (R-MO) amendment would ban members of the armed forces, DoD employees, and chaplains from assisting in or performing same-sex marriages and restrict base facility usage for those marriages;
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler's (R-MO) amendment would restate DOMA language to explicitly include our armed forces, improperly attempting to legislate on the issue of marriage through a bill to provide for the national defense; and
  • Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-CA) amendment would expand certification to the service chiefs, who have already testified that they do not need this authority.
These scare tactics and anti-equality amendments have several things in common: they are based in unfounded fears and shameless personal politics. They aim to slow down repeal no matter the cost, even if it means ignoring the testimony and advice of our nation’s most senior military leaders and undermining our rank-and-file troops who are just trying to do their jobs.

Hopefully, with certification in hand and the 60 days expired, the Hunter amendment may well be moot this fall.
However, the passage of these amendments that would expand the DOMA law already on the books – essentially “DOMA-plus” – means we must continue to fight back when the defense bill goes to the full House for a vote later this month. Make no mistake – it will be hard to win there, but this is an important fight we must wage. This does matter. Some of the DOMA-plus language adopted by HASC could pass the Senate and end up in conference committee this fall. As a result, our troops could be stuck with DOMA-plus.

You have proven through your countless phone calls to the HASC this week that you will not stand down in the face of these threats. Our repeal allies, like former Rep. Patrick Murphy and the 85 organizations that signed on to our coalition letter to the HASC, have penned their opinions to the same effect. Together, we will stand strong and fight back. 
Your contribution today will help us keep up the fight.

Our troops, their families, and our country deserve better. Thank you for standing up for service members with us. 
Aubrey signature

Aubrey Sarvis

Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director

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