(Photo: ENS / Sarah Bartenstein)
The Republican-led House of Representatives on Friday made a last-ditch effort to undermine the new policy of allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
The move has ignited a fierce debate over same-sex marriage as the Pentagon orders the armed forces to commence the admittance of service members with no regard to sexual orientation.
The House passed a $649 billion defense spending bill today, and also pushed through amendments to block training funds for personnel on how to deal with the termination of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which blocked lesbian and gay people from serving openly in the military, was repealed by Congress in December, and the Pentagon has been working to draft new training and procedures for the change.
A small group of Democrats joined 229 Republicans in supporting one amendment Friday, which was put forward by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), to block the use of federal funds to recognize same-sex marriages.
The move is seen as an attempt to reignite the debate which seemingly had reached its conclusion when Congress repealed the law last year.
A second amendment, which was submitted by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), blocks funding for the training of military chaplains. Huelskamp said, “I fear that chaplains who refuse to perform these ceremonies may find themselves under attack and their careers threatened.
"Repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' was supposed to be about allowing people in the military to serve openly, not about promoting same-sex marriage in contravention of the Defense of Marriage Act,” he said.
Huelskamp has openly admitted the amendment’s purpose was to prohibit chaplains from performing same-sex marriages on Navy bases regardless of what a state’s law says.