In one of his final acts as a U.S. representative, Akin is now trying to strip away new-found rights afforded to gay and lesbian members of the military by introducing a “conscience clause” into the House version of the Defense Authorization Act.
Mother Jones examined the clause today and points out that it can be used as justification to discriminate against gay and lesbian soldiers, despite the DADT repeal.
Under Akin’s proposal, a service member could cite his or her religious beliefs on homosexuality for refusing to serve alongside gay and lesbian colleagues, or for treating them differently from everyone else. For example, a service member could object to being housed in the same facility as someone who is gay or lesbian. Akin says this provision is necessary to prevent service members from “being persecuted for their views,” but the language could allow the persecution of service members on the basis of their sexual orientation.
The Senate passed the same bill earlier this year, minus Akin’s amendment. But the final version of the bill is now being negotiated between the Senate and House. Mother Jones reports that the Republicans’ two chief negotiators want to include the “conscience clause.”
The Senate passed a version of the 2013 defense spending bill without the Akin proposal in early December. But with both houses of Congress negotiating the final version of the bill, the two main Republican negotiators, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), want Akin’s so-called “conscience clause” to remain in the bill.
The negotiations could be resolved as early as today, Mother Jones reports. The White House has publicly stated it disagrees with Akin’s amendment and Senate Democrats are not likely inclined to embrace such a clause. Still, with an ineffective Congress, anything is possible.