Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) is offering an amendment to the defense authoritarian bill that would require the armed forces to issue specific “conscience” protections for servicemembers who view gay people as immoral and would require Congressional review of the regulations. From the amendment:
The sincerely held religious or moral beliefs of a member of the Armed Forces that homosexual or bisexual conduct is immoral and/or an inappropriate expression of human sexuality according to the tenets of the member’s faith community shall be accommodated….
The Secretary of Defense shall issue regulations setting forth guidance to insure that the sincerely held religious or moral beliefs of members of the Armed Forces regarding homosexual or bisexual conduct are protected, accommodated…
Palazzo is using the amendment to further the conservative argument that extending equal rights to gay and lesbian people — allowing them to serve openly in the armed forces or enter into recognized relationships — actually victimizes Christians and undermines their beliefs.
In reality, the amendment is wholly unnecessary, since the Pentagon has already stipulated that “[t]here will be no changes regarding Service member exercise of religious beliefs, nor are there any changes to policies concerning the Chaplain Corps of the Military Departments and their duties. The Chaplain Corps’ First Amendment freedoms and their duty to care for all will not change.” The existing rules already protect men and women of all races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds who live and work together but have different values, views, or ways of life with which not everyone agrees.
The GOP has offered two other anti-gay amendments to extend the life of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and prevent the Navy from allowing gay couples to marry on navy bases in states that allow same-sex marriage.