Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Republicans Push For Military ‘License To Bully’ Gay Servicemembers

When not seeking to force women to submit to invasive ultrasounds, telling immigrants to "self-deport," and seeking to cut government programs for the the poor and middle class in order to give tax cuts to the obscenely wealthy, the Republican Party's sport of choice is to devise legislation to deny LGBT Americans of equality under the civil laws and allow religious based bigotry against gays to run amok unfettered.  Indeed, in their effort to gain special rights to hate filled Christofascist, today's GOP turns the Constitution's First Amendment on its head and blatantly undermine laws that prohibit discrimination based on religion.  And, as noted many times before, the only basis for anti-gay discrimination is religion.  Now, with DADT on the trash heap of history where it belongs, the GOP, lead by Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin is striving to add amendments to legislation that would add a "conscience clause" that in effect gives religious extremists within the ranks of the U. S. military to bully and torment gay service members.  Think Progress looks at this insidious effort.  Here are highlights:

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) is departing the House at the end of this year, but he’s trying to force some of his odious anti-gay rhetoric into law before he goes. Earlier this year, he proposed an amendment to the defense budget that would create a “license to bully” for military personnel, essentially guaranteeing that anybody who has a problem with LGBT people can’t be disciplined for it, even if they’re engaging in blatant discrimination or harassment. 

The House passed the amendment, but the Senate didn’t give the idea any consideration. Now that the bill is in conference, Republican leaders are trying to add it back in.

The conference is being negotiated by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), both of whom opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and have substantial anti-gay records. When McKeon assumed leadership of the House Armed Services Committee, he pledged to pass clean defense bills that were “not weighed down” by social issues, but for the past two years, he has done just the opposite, supporting anti-gay measures like Akin’s and others.

Though none of the measures advanced by the House last year survived conference with the Senate, a House Democratic aide says McCain and McKeon are “pushing pretty hard” to get Akin’s through this year.

OutServe-SLDN’s Allyson Robinson points out that Akin’s measure would foster the kind of unit cohesion problems Republicans incorrectly claimed DADT repeal would cause:
ROBINSON: As a former military commander, I can tell you that allowing any service member to openly discriminate against a comrade in this way will compromise good order and discipline — the very thing supporters of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ falsely claimed was going to happen back when we repealed the law. The fact is, there are already strong protections for all service members, including chaplains, in place, and all this provision would do is create a license to discriminate. The next Secretary of Defense should not be saddled with a law that makes it harder for small unit commanders in the field to lead their troops.
One can only hope that this anti-gay initiative is defeated.

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