On Wednesday, May 11, the full House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed three amendments to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that are important to our troops. On May 25, the amendments were adopted in the House version of the NDAA, despite “strong” opposition from the Obama Administration.
Just prior to the committee’s legislative mark-up session on May 11, CNS News reported an eye-opening story: Navy Authorizes Chaplains to Perform Same-Sex ‘Marriages’ in Naval Chapels. The news, which hit the Drudge Report and spread like wildfire, came to light through the Military Culture Coalition network that CMR organized in 2010. (Please see Section C below)
This article, posted on CMR’s website, reports why and how Congress sent a firm message to the Obama Administration in defense of marriage:
The 112th Congress requires sufficient time to conduct independent hearings on the consequences of the LGBT Law and policies that the lame-duck Congress did not consider before rushing to repeal the law last December. For months CMR has been taking the lead and laying the groundwork for recent victories, but our military remains in peril in this month of June, which President Barack Obama has proclaimed to be “LGBT Equality” month. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists are expecting to receive the ultimate party favor at a White House reception: a document “certifying” that no harm will come to the military if/when final repeal is implemented 60 days later.
The administration’s lack of answers to reasonable questions, combined with revealing missteps like the Navy’s move to prepare for same-sex marriages, are indications that the Pentagon does not know what it is doing. To schedule an interview on subjects presented in this issue, call CMR President Elaine Donnelly at 734/464-9430, or CMR Executive Director Tommy Sears at 202/330-1390.
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A. Military Gay Activists Looking for Trouble
On May 16, Andrea Stone of the Huffington Post reported that the gay activist group Servicemembers United has been secretly taping Marine military training sessions in order to capture statements that could be used against the military. This article describes a session at Camp Lejeune, NC:
“According to a secretly taped audio of a recent Marine training session obtained by The Huffington Post, as well as reports from an underground network of active-duty gay and lesbian service members and interviews with closeted service members, the classes have not been universally supportive of DADT policies….In the taped session that Servicemembers United, a gay advocacy group, provided to HuffPost, a gruff gunnery sergeant states that most of the Marine Corps is against allowing gays to serve openly. But, like it or not, he says, the repeal is a lawful order and Marines follow orders….”
So now we have gay activists secretly taping Marines trying to catch someone saying something for which they could be criticized. We cannot imagine a situation more deadly to unit cohesion, which depends on mutual trust at all times.
There’s more. Stone also reported on June 2 that a group of active-duty gay activists called OutServe is planning an October convention of active-duty LGBT personnel and friends in Las Vegas:
- Huffington Post: DADT Repeal Gay Troops to Hold Las Vegas Convention
The theme of the convention will be “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.” That will be news to hundreds of former naval aviators whose careers were ruined due to allegations of alcohol-fueled sexual misconduct at the 1991 convention of the Tailhook Association in Las Vegas. Will the Pentagon enforce rules of personal conduct, which apply on- and off-base, 24/7, when the party-goers are LGBT activists and friends gathering in Las Vegas for a military “Malehook Convention?” We don’t know, but it’s a sure bet that the media will not report what happens if it reflects badly on LGBT participants.
B. House Committee Asserts Congressional Oversight With Amendments to NDAA
On April 26, CMR coordinated a letter signed by 23 leaders of organizations affiliated with the Military Culture Coalition, and sent it to key leaders of the House Armed Services Committee:
The letter asked that the House Armed Services Committee continue the process of oversight by scheduling more hearings on the consequences of the new LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) law. Hearings on April 1 and April 7, which CMR analyzed here and here, revealed that the well-orchestrated “tiered training” program has left scores of unresolved issues. One of the thorniest ones involves the consequences of extending marital status and benefits to same-sex couples in the military.
Contradictions became crystal clear when the Obama Administration revealed that it has no intention of enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the military—or anywhere else.
C. Navy Prepares for Same-Sex Marriages on Navy and Marine Bases
Despite previous Pentagon promises to enforce the DOMA, Rear Adm. Mark. L. Tidd, the Navy Chief of Chaplains, issued a memo on April 13, 2011 titled “Revision of Chaplain Corps Tier 1 Training.” The memo, self-described as “not a change” but a “clearer, more concise and up to date articulation,” actually revised earlier training instructions radically, in order to authorize same-sex marriages in Navy and Marine Corps facilities located in states where such unions are legal. Following the initial CNSNews report, a firestorm quickly ensued:
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) immediately responded by writing a stiff letter of protest to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, co-signed by 62 of his colleagues.
“Mr. Secretary, we find it unconscionable that the United States Navy, a federal entity sworn to ‘preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States,’ believes it is their place alone to train and direct members of their service to violate federal law…It is not the place of any citizen of this country to pick and choose which laws they are going to obey.”
CNN and the Christian Science Monitor quoted CMR’s news release regarding the Navy’s “suspension” of a training program to teach acceptance of same-sex marriage by chaplains on military bases:
- Christian Science Monitor: Facing a Firestorm, Navy Reverses Course on Performing Same-Sex Marriages
- Peter Sprigg takes on OutServe on MSNBC: http://www.frc.org/frcinthenews/11may2011/peter-sprigg-on-msnbc
- WorldNetDaily: Pentagon ‘Confused’ Over Gender, Needs Help >From Congress
A few days later, the Navy tried but failed to do damage control. The Washington Post reported the second memorandum, suggesting that it reversed the Navy’s previous memo announcing training for same-sex marriage. However, the actual memo from DoD Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Robert T. Cali only “suspended” the policy pending coordination with the other services and more review by legal counsel.
D. Congress Steps in to Protect Marriage
As CMR stated in a news release, House committee members were not swayed by the Navy’s weather-vane policies and equivocation. Instead, the House Armed Services Committee voted to include three amendments in the National Defense Authorization Bill.1
- Congressman Akin sponsored and successfully passed an amendment barring same-sex marriages on military bases. (38-23)
- Taking a step further, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) sponsored and passed an amendment to create a military version of the Defense of Marriage Act, or “M-DOMA,” to define marriage as the bond between one man and one woman. The Hartzler amendment passed on a bi-partisan vote. (39-22)
- Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) also passed a measure that would expand and possibly slow the process of implementing repeal of the 1993 law. Under Hunter’s amendment, the four Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy, Air Force the Marine Corps would be required to “certify” that repeal of the 1993 law would not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, and morale of units and personnel that are engaged in combat, deployed to, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater. (33-27)
Currently, the right to issue “certification” is in the hands of only three officials who are already on record in favor of repeal: President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. Final repeal would occur 60 days later.
The Obama Administration expressed strong displeasure with Congressional action by issuing a formal statement of opposition to all three amendments mandating congressional oversight:
- Whitehouse.gov: Statement of Administration Policy
- Chad Groening, OneNewsNow: Telling White House Memo Pro-LGBT
We appreciate HASC Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson, and Representatives Akin, Hartzler, and Hunter who sponsored the three amendments.
E. Three Star General Speaks Out for Troops Whose Voices Have Been Ignored
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who was Army Pacific Commander until his scheduled retirement on May 1, has said in a Washington Times interview what everyone knows: Despite “tiered training” that General Mixon himself conducted, the Department of Defense has no credible plans to implement repeal of the 1993 law regarding homosexuals in the military. Only a few months ago Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen essentially invited General Mixon to “vote with his feet” in March 2010 for encouraging his troops to participate in the debate before the repeal legislation was presented in Congress:
- Washington Times: Retired General Warns of ‘Rush’ to End ‘Don’t Ask’
During his recent last visit with Marines stationed in Afghanistan, Secretary Gates, in answer to a well-stated question from a Marine sergeant, said there will be no option to leave for servicemembers who do not support the new LGBT law and associated policies. Never mind that that option had been mentioned by Adm. Mullen and others several times, most prominently when they criticized General Mixon:
So this is how the DoD intends to make the policy “work.” Just operate the military like a lobster trap, drawing recruits in with false assurances and no recourse when they are faced with the consequences of forced intimacy with persons who may be sexually attracted to them.
Gates persisted in telling the Marines, “If we do this right, nothing will change.” Everyone knows that is not true. Women living in close quarters with other women are not required to expose themselves to men who might be sexually attracted to them. But this is exactly what the Defense Department will expect of servicemen and women in the future under the new LGBT law and related policies.
Furthermore, servicemen and women will have no recourse but to leave the military if they object to living conditions that create a “hostile work environment.” Individuals can leave the military when the time comes to re-enlist, but those doing so short of a full 20-year career will lose the opportunity to become vested for retirement benefits.
During the entire debate last year and in several public appearances, Secretary Gates did not point to a single benefit for the All-Volunteer Force if Congress voted to repeal the 1993 law. Not once. Instead, he and other Pentagon officials talked about “mitigating” problems expected to ensue. This is not “leadership.” It is abdication of responsibility.
F. Chaplains Letter Calls for Halt on “Certification”
Meanwhile, concerns about rights of conscience and religious liberty are growing and remain unresolved. The Associated Press reported on a persuasive Letter from Chaplain Endorsers, released by the Alliance Defense Fund on May 23. The letter, signed by 21 chaplain endorsing agencies, including some of the largest (and the largest) in the military: the Southern Baptist Convention’s endorser, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Anglican Church of North America, and the Evangelical Free Church of America). The letter asked for congressional intervention to prevent problems that the letter addresses:
“It is not sufficient to posit, as the [Pentagon Working Group] CRWG report did, that chaplains and service members remain free to exercise their faith in chapel services. Service members should know that chaplains’ ministry and their own rights of conscience remain protected everywhere military necessity has placed them. We hope that you will join us in urging DoD and Congress to adopt such specific and intentional conscience protections.”
- AP/Washington Times: Chaplains: Troops May Fear Sharing Beliefs on Gays
In a separate statement, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who heads the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, also expressed concerns about same-sex unions in the military.
G. Analysis: LGBT Law Would Force Exclusion or Silence for People of Faith
An article in the current edition of Armed Forces Journal suggests that in the military there are two distinct groups: people who believe that homosexuality is not immoral and not a problem, and a significant group belonging to the four major religious groups who believe that it is immoral:
- Col. Al Shine (Ret.) and Col. Don Snider (Ret.): The Right to be Wrong
Under the LGBT Law that Congress voted to impose when it repealed the 1993 law last December, the military is supposed to take sides—favoring the former group and discriminating against the latter. This is a recipe for division and deterioration of morale, recruiting, and readiness in the All-Volunteer Force.
 Here are the details and vote totals, the largest margin being for the Hartzler amendment, which was supported by four HASC Democrats:
Hartzler Amendment (Sect. 534) : To define marriage in military policies (Passed 39-22) “Congress reaffirms the policy of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, codified as section 7 of title 1, United States Code. In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the Department of Defense applicable to members of the Armed Forces or civilian employees of the Department of Defense, the word ‘‘marriage’’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘‘spouse’’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
Akin Amendment (Sect. 535): Prohibits same-sex marriages on military bases (Passed 38-23) “(a) LIMITATION ON USE.—A military installation or other property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense may be used as the site for a marriage ceremony only if the marriage complies with the definition of marriage in section 7 of title 1, United States Code.” (Defense of Marriage Act)
Hunter Amendment: (Sect. 533): All service chiefs must certify repeal of DADT (Passed 33-27) “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.”
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The Center for Military Readiness is an independent, non-partisan 501(c)(3) public policy organization that specializes in military social issues. More information is available at www.cmrlink.org.