Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), a sponsor of so-called “conscience” measure — which may turn into a “licence to bully” gay and lesbian servicemembers — claimed, “The president has repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is using the military as props to promote his gay agenda.” Akin is running for Senate in Missouri.
Indeed, his claims are dubious at best. Under current policy, chaplains can opt out from performing same-sex ceremonies and have publicly stated that they continue to conduct “religious ceremonies and rites in keeping with the canons [or beliefs, doctrine, policies] of the religious faith group that endorses that chaplain.”
The inclusion of anti-gay measures in the defense bill also represents a reversal for House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who upon winning back the chairmanship in November of 2010, pledged to pass clean defense bills that were “not weighed down” by social issues. “Congress should pass clean legislation — without the liberal social agenda items Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid have insisted on attaching in the run-up to the election,” McKeon said, referring to amendments to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and enact hate crimes protections. He added: “The National Defense Authorization Act—especially in wartime—should be focused on one core equity: caring and providing for the men and women in uniform and their families.”