Friday, January 04, 2013

Obama's Signing Statement Criticizes Conscience Provisions In Defense Bill

Yesterday the President signed H.R. 4310, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.  As previously reported, Section 533 of the Act added protections for conscience rights of military members and chaplains. In his signing statement (full text), the President criticized those provisions, apparently concerned that they will be invoked to limit the rights of gay and lesbian members of the armed forces.  The President said:
Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, an organization of chaplain endorsers, responded with a press release which said in part:
The purpose of these provisions is simply to protect the religious liberties of military chaplains who hold to Biblical views concerning sexuality. Several chaplains have already been faced with requests from same-sex couples to have ceremonies in military chapels. Every member of our armed forces should be able to serve without surrendering their beliefs.
[Thanks to Blog from the Capital for the lead.]