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House panel tacks on anti-gay amendments to defense bill

WASHINGTON -- A House defense committee approved late Wednesday a series of anti-gay amendments as part of major Pentagon budget legislation aimed at disrupting the process for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and at demonstrating support for the Defense of Marriage Act.

The most high-profile amendment came from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who introduced a measure that would expand the certification requirement needed for repeal to include input from the four military service chiefs. The Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee voted 33-27 in favor of adopting the measure as part of the fiscal year 2012 defense authorization bill.

The repeal legislation signed into law in December allows for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” after 60 days pass following certification from the president, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hunter’s amendment would expand the certification requirement to include input from the uniform chiefs of staff for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

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Servicemembers United statement

Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and a former Army interrogator who was discharged under DADT, issued this statement:

"Despite the passage of this amendment within the ever-hostile House Armed Services Committee, it is highly unlikely that such an amendment would ever pass the Senate and be signed by the President. The offering of this amendment was a shameful and embarrassing waste of time. The service chiefs have unequivocally said that they do not want this extra burden forced upon them, so if Congress really values their advice on this issue they should take it and forget this unnecessary and unwanted amendment."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network statement

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and an Army veteran, issued this statement:

“The amendments adopted [Wednesday night] during mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act in the U.S. House related to the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ represent nothing less than an assault on our nation’s senior military leaders and rank-and-file service members, who are marching toward open military service successfully. These adopted amendments to delay and derail repeal are a partisan political attempt to interject the same-sex marriage debate and other unrelated social issues into the NDAA where they have no place. Make no mistake – these votes should be a wake-up call to supporters of open service that our work is not done. Our commitment to timely certification and repeal must be redoubled as we move to the House floor to defend the progress we have made to ensure that LGB patriots can defend and serve the country they love with honesty and integrity.”

Human Rights Campaign statement

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, issued the following statement:

“Make no mistake, these amendments are meant to slow down open service and perpetuate scare tactics about the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Republicans should stop playing politics by standing in the way of all Americans being able to serve their country equally.

“As the process moves forward, we call on all lawmakers to stop these side shows and get back to the real work on which Americans so desperately want them to focus.”