White House Objects to 'Conscience Protections' in Defense Bill That Would Protect Anti-Gay Harassment
Last week we reported on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered by Rep. John Fleming (pictured) (R-LA) that would expand "conscience protections", offering a "license to bully" based on religious beliefs.
The White House released a statement this afternoon containing objections to certain provisions in the bill. Among them, the 'conscience protections':
The Administration strongly objects to section 530, which would require the Armed Forces to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, "actions and speech" reflecting the "conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member." By limiting the discretion of commanders to address potentially problematic speech and actions within their units, this provision would have a significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.
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 amendment 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."