Last week, House Republicans adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that expands “conscience protections” for military chaplains and servicemembers. The provision, offered by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) enables anti-gay bullying by tying the hands of commanding officers when harassment is taking place. The White House noted its objection to the amendment in its threat to veto the bill as currently drafted, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is not happy about President Obama’s opposition:
CRUZ: We have reports of servicemen and women being told that, ‘If you share your faith with others, you will face disciplinary action and perhaps court martial.’ The idea that we would say to men and women who are risking their lives … that they have to check their First Amendment rights at the door and give up the right to speak the truth and to speak and defend their faith, it’s wrong and it’s unconstitutional.
Congress is acting right now to make very clear in the law that our service men and women don’t give up their faith when they sign up to defend this country. The Obama administration has explicitly said it opposes such efforts and has threatened to veto.
Cruz was speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, which according to Politico, he arrived an hour late for and proceeded to only speak for seven minutes.
There is a difference between the religious beliefs a person holds and the actions that person takes. Somehow, conservatives have co-opted the idea that “faith” is synonymous with condemning people for being gay or openly discriminating against them. In addition to justifying such oppression, this approach insults the many people of faith who do support LGBT equality — or are LGBT themselves.
Cruz, Fleming, and other proponents of this “license to discriminate” should provide evidence of the supposed disciplinary action they claim is taking place. If it is actually happening — which the evidence suggests it is not — they should have to stand by the specifics of the anti-LGBT harassment they are clearly trying to defend.