Defense Budget Bill Includes ‘Conscience’ Provision

Gay MilitaryAccording to a top House Democrat on defense issues, the final version of major Pentagon budget legislation includes watered-down “conscience” language similar to the anti-gay provision found in the House version of the bill.

Language similar to — but more limited than — Section 536 of the House bill was included in the conference report for the fiscal year 2013 defense authorization bill, according to Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Language prohibiting same-sex marriages from taking place on military bases was removed from the final version of the bill, according to Smith.

According to the Washington Blade, Smith said:

“We struck the second provision.  There is modified conscience clause language still in the bill … 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. But you can’t be punished solely for your beliefs. We modified that first language, struck the second language.”

Smith added that he does not personally support the ‘conscience’ language of the bill and feels it does not belong in the bill.

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copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

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