DADT: House Defense Bill, Colonels Punished, Lawsuit and More
- US House passes 2012 NDAA with DADT proviso
- Quantico Marines conduct training, ‘can’t harass or make fun’
- Army Colonels punished for skit ‘mocking homosexuals’
- ADF may sue if Chaplains are not given protections
- A rebuttal to the ADF by a former Chaplain — who calls conservative Christians ‘bigots.’
The US House passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on a vote of 322-96. Included in it was a provision on the fate of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” DADT cannot be repealed as policy until:
The Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force each submit to the congressional defense committees the officer’s written certification that repeal of section 654 of title 10, United States Code, will not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, and morale of combat arms units and personnel of the Armed Force under the officer’s jurisdiction engaged in combat, deployed to a combat theater, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater.
This adds the Service Chiefs to the prior list of leaders that have to “certify” the repeal of DADT to Congress.
The bill also “reaffirms” the DOMA, defining marriage within military policy and restricting the definition of “spouse” to a member of the opposite gender. (Amendments that would have expanded abortion coverage and eliminated restrictions on women in combat apparently failed.)
The Senate has yet to begin work on its own version of the bill, which will then be reconciled in committee with the House version, prior to a final vote and Presidential signature.
The White House issued an executive memo objecting to many provisions in the bill. The memo “strongly objects” to the House bill’s new requirements that the Joint Chiefs certify the military’s readiness. Notably, if there was any doubt as to the future steps in DADT repeal:
The Administration strongly objects to sections [defining marriage], believes that section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is discriminatory, and supports DOMA’s repeal.
US Marines at Quantico recently underwent training on the repeal of the policy most commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The questions discussed were largely the same as at other times, with an interesting observation:
“Can you harass or make fun of other service members,” asked Lt. Col. Lew Sigmon.
One of the Marines replied,”No sir!”
Sigmon then said, “So nothing has changed.”
Apparently the author was never in the company of fighter pilots, infantrymen, tankers, SEALs, maintainers, security forces, airborne rangers, and every other military community where members of the military routinely “harass or make fun of” each other. Unlike the stoic Marines answering the question offered, other members of the military might be surprised to learn they can’t give each other grief over a wide variety of topics.
The Army Times reports three US Army Colonels in Korea were punished for performing a skit in which they portrayed openly gay Elton John, Boy George, and George Michael as Soldiers. Apparently, their use of “effeminate gestures” was offensive — and the potential for offense was the primary cause for punishment:
“It was obvious…what they had done was inappropriate because there was every chance that someone could have been offended by this, in particular, potentially gay soldiers,” [Lt Gen John D. Johnson] said.
The officers were not accused of violating regulations.
The Alliance Defense Fund has said it may sue “all the way to the US Supreme Court” if Pentagon policies do not align with federal law:
Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said his conservative legal organization would sue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to ensure that federal law — instead of the Pentagon personnel policy — represents the group’s position.
The group and its allies continue to point out the apparent lack of opposition to DADT repeal is a function of military restrictions on speech, not an absence of the opposition itself. As a result,
Bishop Neal…said there are many chaplains who oppose the change to the military ban on homosexuality, but who will not get the chance to speak up because they are still in the service… Though military chaplains can’t speak up while serving, the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal group, will sue on their behalf if the Senate does not pass the House-approved amendments, according to ADF Senior Counsel Austin Nimocks…
Homosexual advocacy websites have picked up on a rebuttal to the ADF statement by retired US Navy Chaplain (CAPT) John F. Gundlach, a member of a self-designated group of Chaplains working for repeal, calling themselves the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy. (Gundlach is apparently also an Ecclesiastical Endorser of military Chaplains for the United Church of Christ, sometimes described as a “progressive” Protestant denomination.) The retired Chaplain posits that liberal and conservative religious freedoms are in conflict:
Are ADF and the religious groups they represent as willing to defend the same rights and protections for others they claim for themselves? Are they as willing to acknowledge the right of chaplains from gay-friendly denominations to perform gay weddings in military chapels?
Gundlach does not explain from what source he derives a religious right to perform “homosexual weddings,” nor does he assert his denomination is morally or religiously obligated to support specific sexuality. By contrast, the ADF represents groups who do hold to moral and religious tenets on those subjects. Gundlach’s attempt to coattail their religious standing fails.
In perhaps the most shocking statement from the retired Navy Chaplain — whose role in the military was to protect religious freedom for all service members — is his explicit statement that Christians with traditional religious beliefs are bigots:
So where is the threat to religious freedom? And where could their right to free speech be limited? It will no longer be acceptable to speak about fellow gay and lesbian service members in demeaning ways in the workplace and other public settings. The fact that this has ever been acceptable by anyone anywhere, but especially by chaplains, is regrettable.
And chaplains from the religious groups who are now demanding protection from discrimination have been some of the worst offenders. They, and others who agree with them, may continue to think and believe what they want, but outside of those areas where their religious speech is protected, they may now have to keep their bigotry to themselves.
Perhaps the Army Colonels from Korea could help the US military define what Gundlach means by “demeaning,” if that is to be the standard, but the last sentence is the most interesting.
Pop Quiz: Who has defined “areas where…religious speech is protected” within the military? While an instinctive response might be “the military chapel,” the truth is no one has restricted the location of religious speech in the military to any location. The belief that the military has — or may yet create — such restrictions on religious speech is precisely one of the reasons the ADF is calling for conscience protections.
In his attempt to belittle those with whom he disagrees, Gundlach instead proved their point.
President Obama has declared June to be “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.”
The story of America’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors…
Last December, I was proud to sign the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. With this repeal, gay and lesbian Americans will be able to serve openly in our Armed Forces for the first time in our Nation’s history. Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized.