For the past two years, House Republicans have attempted to use the National Defense Authorization Act to solidify some anti-gay principles into military codes, including a ban on same-sex weddings on military bases, a “license to bully” that encouraged anti-gay harassment, and redundant conscience protections for military chaplains. Some of these conscience protections advanced in the final version of the bill this past fall, and Obama criticized them in a signing statement, calling them “unnecessary” and “ill-advised.” Now, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) is once again trying to enshrine discrimination into the nation’s military.
His new bill, H.R. 914, the “Military Religious Freedom Protection Act,” contains more redundant protections for military chaplains, ensuring — as is already the case — that they cannot be penalized if their religious beliefs are not pro-gay. What seems evident is that those redundancies are simply a guise for the last little provision in the bill: a ban on same-sex marriages on military bases:
A military installation or other property owned, rented, or otherwise under the jurisdiction or control of the Department of Defense shall not be used to officiate, solemnize, or perform a marriage or marriage-like ceremony involving anything other than the union of one man with one woman.
Furthermore, if there is any concern that chaplains’ consciences are not already protected, it seems that these reiterated provisions could only serve to protect outright anti-LGBT harassment.
In the year after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, only two individuals — both chaplains — left the military in protest. Nothing about this bill supports the military or its members.