House panel votes to ban same-sex marriages on US military bases
On the same day that President Barack Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage, the House Armed Services Committee backed measures prohibiting the practice on U.S. military bases.
The panel stepped into the gays in the military issue as it considered a sweeping, $642 billion defense bill for next year that buys new weapons, ships and aircraft, increases military pay by 1.7 percent and sets policies for the Pentagon. The committee worked through the day Wednesday and into the early morning Thursday on the legislation that adds billions of dollars to the president's budget request.
The committee fleshed out a blueprint for next year that calls for a base defense budget of $554 billion, including nuclear weapons spending, plus $88 billion for the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts. That compares with the administration's proposal of $551 billion, plus $88 billion.
Conservative Republicans still angry with the end to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military pressed two measures.
"The president has repealed `don't ask, don't tell' and is using the military as props to promote his gay agenda," said Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who is running for Senate.
The committee, on a vote of 37-24, backed an amendment that barred same-sex marriages or "marriage-like" ceremonies on military installations. The panel also endorsed an Akin amendment that said the services should accommodate the rights of conscience of members of the services and chaplains who are morally or religiously opposed to expressions of human sexuality.
In an odd exchange, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., questioned what would happen if a service member literally interpreted the Old Testament's Leviticus, which considers homosexuality an abomination. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., disputed her contention that was part of the Bible, saying it was the Old Testament.
House committee members did not specifically mention Obama's comments on gay marriage during the debate, but Democrats did characterize the GOP-backed amendments as discriminatory. ...