House Panel Adds Measure to Defense Bill That Would Protect Anti-Gay Harassment, Discrimination

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA, pictured) was accepted by the House Armed Services Committee last night. Read it here. The amendment expands "conscience protections" in the NDAA, offering a 'license to bully' based on religious beliefs.

According to Outserve-SLDN:

If enacted, the Fleming amendment would protect inappropriate, defamatory, and discriminatory speech and actions – a significant expansion of current protections for beliefs – and would leave commanders with no recourse against such prejudicial conduct when it occurs in their units.

The group says the bill would also "compromise religious liberties of service members, erode the ability of military commanders to protect good order and discipline, and undermine the successful implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal."

Raw Story adds:

“Basically, you can believe what you believe and not be punished for it, but if your actions based on those beliefs are counter to the Uniform Code of Military Justice or counter to what’s necessary, that can be held against you,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) explained last year, when the conscience protections were first added to the defense spending bill.

But Fleming’s amendment would require the Pentagon to accommodate religious “speech and actions” — not just beliefs.

Said Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson, an ordained Baptist minister:

"Religious liberty is a core American value, and we support the accommodation of all beliefs. What we can never support is legislation that sanctions one belief at the expense of others and places unit cohesion, the safety of our troops, and their ability to accomplish the mission in jeopardy, and that’s exactly what this bill would do…The military already has in place policies that adequately protect a service member’s personal beliefs while also protecting unit cohesion and good order and discipline. This amendment is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to sabotage the climate of inclusion and respect for all that our Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense have called for in our military, and would create a license to bully, harass, and discriminate against service members based on religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any number of other characteristics."


  1. Tyler says

    The old adage “if you give them an inch” is applicable here. We were told when the original language was included that it was harmless and standard procedure to respect “beliefs” in the military. Now, right on cue, the Republicans are expanding their anti-gay crusade. Incredibly, the words “threaten” in the narrow exception clause are being substituted with “actually harm”. Gay soldiers will now be subjected to verbal and physical harassment as long as they are not “actually harmed”. This cannot stand.

  2. Steve says

    And this won’t be the end either. In the next bill they will introduce another amendment that will go even further.

  3. EnRanc says

    I think it’s a small price to pay. Hell at least they’re allowed to be there. You can’t force other people to like it, or silence them from saying that they don’t.

  4. Chadd says

    The Christian Taliban expects us to keep our gayness in the closet at the same time they feel compelled and even entitled to shout their gospel at every living soul. Many, many horrible things have happened in the name of Religious Liberty yet we keep repeating history.

  5. Tyler says

    @”EnRanc” please go troll somewhere else, or else just go die. Actually, I would prefer your death, but either one would suffice.

  6. I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff says

    the Two Mothers and the Wisdom of Solomon

    The story is recounted in 1Kings 3:16-28. Two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son came to Solomon for a judgement.

    One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers.

    The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other.

    King Solomon said, “Bring me a sword!” So they brought a sword before the King. The King said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one and half to the other”

    The woman (#2) turned to the King, because her compassion was aroused for her son, and said: “Please my Lord, give her the living child and do not kill it!”

    But the other woman (#1) said: “Neither mine nor yours shall he be. Cut!”

    The King spoke up and said: “Give her (#2) the living child, and do not kill it, for she is his mother!”

    All of Israel heard the judgment that the King had judged.

    They had great awe for the King, for they saw that the wisdom of God was within him to do justice. [I Melachim 3:16 – 27].

    The woman was rightfully awarded custody of her son.

  7. I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff says

    “First they came…” is a famous statement and provocative poem attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the sloth of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

    There is some disagreement over the exact wording of the quotation and when it was created; the content of the quotation may have been presented differently by Niemöller on different occasions.

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

  8. I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff says

    Martin Niemöller was a German pastor and theologian born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892.
    Niemöller was an anti-communist and supported Hitler’s rise to power at first.

    But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemöller became disillusioned. He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler.

    In 1937 he was arrested and eventually confined in Sachsenhausen and Dachau. His crime was “not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement.” Niemöller was released in 1945 by the Allies.

    He continued his career in Germany as a clergyman and as a leading voice of penance and reconciliation for the German people after World War II.

    His statement, sometimes presented as a poem, is well-known, frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy.

  9. LiamB says

    Your ignorant rants are completely out of line with the discussion, Layla. Please take your idiocy elsewhere. I’m sure there’s a book burning looking for help somewhere.

  10. EnRanc says

    Wishing death on someone is bad karma. Chances are a little better now that I’ll live longer than you.

  11. Good Guy says

    These so called christians should realize they are under the influence of evil and the devil. God and Jesus are about love and acceptance. These right wingers are just the devil in disguise. They are the American Taliban…

  12. David Hearne says

    Absent the influence of ranks, I would prefer that people speak their mind rather than trod along suppressed as they tend to do in the corporate cube farm.

    The military is a little different. While one PFC should be able to tell another PFC off duty what he thinks of him, the military tends to authority and group think. We have to be careful when it comes to a superior officer having a group of men whose religious beliefs he shares, and those religious beliefs being beyond the reach of his superior.

    Ultimately, people are going to believe what they want to believe. So is this simply about speech? If it’s about speech, then it’s probably already covered in the UCMJ.

  13. says

    Because the real people in society who need protecting are religious conservatives whose …uh… freedom to harass people… is at stake.


    Thanks Republicans!

  14. thoughtsjustsome says

    Are you kidding me? Have you actually read the amendment? If a serviceman or woman decides to write on a personal blog that he believes that having sex outside of marriage or having sex with a person of the same gender is a sin, he/she should have the freedom to do so. Just as a serviceman or woman should be able to write on such a blog that they think God is a purple spaghetti monster without being reprimanded for being a “bully.” Whoever decides that free expression of unpopular belief is equal to bullying is nothing more than a narrow minded tyrant in waiting.