Rep. Todd Akin Adds Anti-Gay Provision to Defense Bill Allowing Homophobic Harassment, Religious Discrimination

House Republicans working to finalize Pentagon budget legislation are considering an anti-gay provision added by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), two LGBT advocates tell the Washington Blade's Chris Johnson:

DadtUnder the language, the U.S. military would have to “accommodate the conscience and sincerely held moral principles and religious beliefs of the members of the Armed Forces concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality” and may not use these beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action or discrimination. Additionally, it would prohibit the U.S. military from taking action against military chaplains who decline to serve a particular service member based on religious beliefs.

This language has been understood to mean service members could actively harass their fellow comrades for their perceived or actual sexual orientation without fear of reprisal. Additionally, it has been understood to mean that chaplains would have free rein to discriminate against service members on any basis — including religion, gender, sexual orientation, race or any other characteristic — simply by saying serving them is contrary to their beliefs.

The "conscience protection" language is supposedly "very much in play" for the bill's final version.