The United States Senate has passed 98 to 0 the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act without any language intended to limit or harm the rights of LGB service members. Last spring, the House passed a version of the NDAA that included limits on the use of Department of Defense facilities and would have negatively impacted the rights of military chaplains. The House Republicans wanted to undermine the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
OutServe-SLDN director and Army veteran Allyson Robinson praised the vote saying:
“OutServe-SLDN and our allies have been working throughout the year to encourage Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill to pass a common-sense defense bill that respects the service of all who wear our nation’s uniform and does not turn the clock back on the progress we have made. Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain of the Senate Armed Services Committee should be commended for their stewardship of this bill. With no anti-LGBT provisions, the bill received full bipartisan support, passing 98-0. We will be standing firm to ensure that the harmful language included in the House version is stripped away in conference committee.”
According to OutServe-SLDN the first provision “would give so-called ‘conscience protections’ to chaplains and all other service members who do not wish to minister and work with gay and lesbian service members. A threat to military readiness and unit cohesion, this amendment would allow service members to actively harass their fellow comrades for their perceived or actual sexual orientation. It would also give chaplains free rein to discriminate against service members on any basis (including religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other characteristic) simply by arguing that ministering to them would be contrary to their ‘conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs.’”
The second provision would have prohibited the use of DoD property for same-gender marriage ceremonies and would have prevented the recent nuptials of Sue Fulton to her long time partner on the grounds of West Point.
Robinson finished up by saying “The Department of Defense has already made it clear – and appropriately so – that decisions about the use of facilities should be made on a sexual orientation neutral basis. Anything else is discrimination, pure and simple.”