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Defense Bill Could Give 'License to Bully' Gay and Lesbian Service Members

Rep. John Fleming's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would make it more difficult to punish anti-gay behavior.
 
 
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The House Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday that critics say amounts to a “license to bully” gay and lesbian service members.  

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) would expand so-called “conscience protections” in the NDAA, requiring military officials to accommodate religious “speech and action” on top of just “beliefs,” as currently specified. The measure also makes it more difficult to punish service members for unruly or disruptive religious expression.

Critics say Fleming’s amendment would effectively protect religiously-motivated bullying, that which targets gay and lesbian soldiers. In a statement, OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson, herself an Army veteran, argued:

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.

As Raw Story notes, Fleming has a history of demonstrating anti-gay views. Last year, he denounced a same-sex marriage on an Army base, calling it a product of the “liberal social experiment with our military.”

 

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.

 
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