2Center or American Progress | The Battles that Remain: Military Service and LGBT Equality
‘Religious liberty’ and sexual orientation discrimination
Te Don’ Ask, Don’ ell Repeal Ac o 2010 was a monumenal piece o legislaion orour miliary and or gay and lesbian service members, bu he bill did no rmly pu anend o discriminaion or LGB members o our miliary. Earlier versions o legislaiono repeal Don’ Ask, Don’ ell no only sruck down he 1993 law bu also called or apolicy o nondiscriminaion on he basis o sexual orienaion in he miliary o replacei;
he bill ha Congress passed and ha Presiden Barack Obama signed ino law included no such language.
As a resul, LGB service members are no a proeced classunder he miliary’s Equal Opporuniy policy, which proecs service members romdiscriminaion, harassmen, and realiaion on he basis o race, color, sex, naional origin,and religion, and creaes a clear pahway or recourse ouside o he chain o command.Insead, LGB service members have been insruced repor harassmen and abuse oheir chain o command or o le a complain wih he inspecor general.
Tis, however,does no rigger he same daa collecion process ha an Equal Opporuniy complain would incie, so hey Deparmen o Deense currenly does no collec any daa onsexual orienaion discriminaion.
Advocaes’ ailure o secure hese nondiscriminaion proecions by oher means is nohe only problem ha remains aer DAD’s repeal. Opponens o equaliy are also ry-ing o make i easier or service members o harass gay and lesbian roops by esablishing broad exempions or he religious views o service members. Tis year, or example,he House o Represenaives voed o include an amendmen by Rep. John Fleming(R-LA) ino he scal year 2014 Naional Deense Auhorizaion Ac, or NDAA, ha would “accommodae he belies, acions, and speech” o service members excep “incases o miliary necessiy.”
Essenially, service members could no be punished or any discriminaory language or conduc—such as harassing gay service members becausehey view homosexualiy as immoral—as long as hey are acing ou o religious belie.Former Rep. odd Akin (R-MO) inroduced a similar proposal las year, bu only a waered-down version was incorporaed ino he FY 2013 NDAA.
Unsurprisingly, he Penagon has resised such legislaion, saing ha curren law already grans “reasonable accommodaion” o religious reedom o service members.
Furhermore, he Whie House poined ou ha he amendmen would acually ie hehands o commanders, who have he ulimae responsibiliy o ensuring good order,discipline, and uni morale and who would be helpless o sop religious bullying underhe amendmen.
Make no misake: Since he successul repeal o “Don’ Ask, Don’ell,” opponens o LGB equaliy have made considerable eors o undermine hemiliary’s seady march oward inclusion and respec.