Defense Budget Advances With Watered-Down ‘License To Bully’ Provision

As expected, the defense budget bill has advanced out of conference with a watered-down version of Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) “license to bully” amendment, which protects anti-gay servicemembers from discipline. According to the Washington Blade, the new version of the “conscience protections” clarifies that actions and speech can still be disciplined, but anti-gay beliefs themselves cannot be used to justify adverse personnel actions. The precise new language has not yet been made public. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) says the language was unnecessary because beliefs are already protected, but doesn’t believe the change will have negative consequences.