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July 8, 2011

House Directs Pentagon to Uphold DOMA Law on Gay Marriage

House lawmakers voted Thursday (July 7) to order the Pentagon to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

In an amendment to a larger Defense Department funding bill, the House voted 248-175 to restrict the Pentagon from granting same-sex couples the same rights or benefits as married couples. The amendment is also aimed at keeping military chaplains from officiating at same-sex weddings.

The move comes at the Pentagon appears poised to lift the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. After the Obama administration called the 1996 law unconstitutional and signaled it will no longer defend it in court, conservatives said the Pentagon needs strict guidance on following the law.

Earlier this year, the Navy suspended a plan to allow Navy chaplains to conduct same-sex weddings on military bases in states where it is legal. After pushback from religious conservatives, Navy officials agreed to study the issue further before adopting any new policies.

“I believe it’s incumbent on the Congress to make this issue very clear so that we don’t have confusion on these military bases when we talk about same-sex marriages,” said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.

The House has yet to act on another amendment, sponsored by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., that would prohibit the Pentagon from implementing a chaplain training program on the repeal of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) policy.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said that amendment “would substitute Congress’s micromanagement for the judgment of our military leaders on training issues, and it is a transparent attempt to interfere with the repeal of DADT in any way possible.”

Comments

I have a hard time understanding why religious people would support moves like this. As far as I understand, the DADT guidelines do not require chaplains to officiate gay weddings; it merely allows them to where their consciences and religions permit them to sanctify the union. It seems to me a great step forward for religious liberty, to say that the government should not forbid or require any clergy to officiate at any legally-permitted wedding.

Frankly, the only reason I can think of to involve DOMA is to say that the clergy are representatives of the federal government. But that's the last thing Christians should want - if the chaplains are representatives of the government, then the government can command them to officiate weddings against their consciences. That's really a dangerous precedent, and works against moves conservative Christians have made in other areas, like the conscience laws that pharmacists shouldn't have to distribute morning-after pills.

The problem is that the Obama administration does not have the authority to refuse to enforce DOMA and have over-stepped the Constitutional provisions that determine the powers of the Executive Branch.

It is not within the Executive Branch's authority to declare DOMA unconstitutional - that is constitutionally mandated to the Judicial Branch. When the Obama administration ordered the DOJ to stop enforcing DOMA, it was the DOJ's darn job to enact this infraction and refuse.

What I cannot understand is how the Obama administration has breached the Constitution and there has been little attention brought to bear on this serious infraction. I know the ACLJ have mentioned it in the past, but have seen no public repercussions. Why?

The Founders warned us about this - particularly in the Federalist Papers.

In response to Maxx:

I wonder why Obama is pulled into this at all. As I understand it, the issue is not what chaplains should be forced to do but what they should be permitted to do. It actually strikes me as a little bit paranoid, to imagine the Defense Department (let alone Obama) intimidating pastors to force them to perform gay marriages. Rather, this move seems to be about whether we want any branch of government telling clerics which marriages to perform and which not to.

The question of Obama's position on Obama seems rather unrelated to that...

...and Rome fell from within. While reading Francis Chan's book "Erasing Hell", I think we need to be bolder in our witnessing. >

In response to Marta;

In the military, chaplains will do what they are told regardless of their personal convictions and to otherwise could land them in legal trouble resulting in a discharge. The military is not a democracy as I was told for over twenty years of service.

Politicians understand that the military is actually a mirror of society. It is the one institution that can enact whatever it wishes without serious challenge and then once an issue is accepted by the civilian sector as a military 'norm' - the issue can then be filtered into society.

As president Obama is the Commander and Chief, of course he is pulled into it by forces that are bent on introducing LGBT into the military as an alternative to LGBT advocates getting a hearing by the Supreme Court, which like most of D.C. has been reluctant to take on any cases involving this issue.

Make sure you understand that this is a very intricate and deliberate back-door and time tested avenue to push the LGBT agenda into society.

Good evening.

Maxx: the Obama administration did not "refuse to enforce DOMA" but rather "signaled it will no longer defend it in court". It continues to enforce it while it still stands as law. Also, the Executive Branch did not judicially or officially "declare DOMA unconstitutional" - it announced its opinion that it's unconstitutional as the reason it would no longer defend it against court challenges. Both the statement of opinion and the decision not to defend are well within Constitutional boundaries, whether one agrees with either.

Obama didn't get pulled into this. As a presidential candidate, he gave an interview to the LGBT magazine The Advocate in which he declared himself as "the most pro-homosexual presidential candidate in history."

Seems like the majority of the House still believes the govt. should not encourage the homosexual social pathology by normalizing and legalizing it. Gays, however, use many arguments to try to show how normal homosexuality is. For instance, they say same-sex behavior often occurs in nature among animals, so it must be normal; and since it is normal in nature, it should be accepted as normal in humans. Let's think about this. First, who really knows what same-sex animal behavior means? Unless you speak penguin, you don't really know why some penguins engage in same-sex behavior. And take Bonobo chimps: they are sometimes cited as a classic example of same-sex behavior.***WARNING. THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN: A Bonobo chimp will greet another Bonobo chimp by copulating with it. (Man! I can only hope I'm never accepted into a Bonobo chimp family.] So, should humans greet each other like this? I'm thinking - no. Often times an old sow (a momma pig for you city folks) will eat her own piglets. Hog farmers don't like it, but since it occurs in nature it must be normal; so why can't women kill their own children w/o our condemnation [oh, wait, bad example - Casey Anthony did just that and was acquitted.] And sometimes a male wolf will kill its competitors. Not a pretty sight - but hey, wolves just do that sort of thing. It's natural - they're just being wolves. Well if its natural for them, why not us? (Now two of my wife's former boyfriends are dead - but it wasn't my fault, I didn't do it - and you can't prove it. ;-P) I could go on about how inappropriate much of animal behavior would be if practiced among humans, but you get my point - normal animal behavior doesn't necessarily translate into normal human behavior. Another argument gays use is that they are born gay, so it must be normal. Let's think about that. Schizophrenics are often born schizophrenic. Do we tout that as normal? Do we encourage the schizophrenic lifestyle? No. We try to get them treatment. Alcoholics also may be born with a biological weakness for alcoholism. Society doesn't condone that behavior. I knew an alcoholic once. He told me that from his first drink at age 13, he was addicted to alcohol and spent most of his waking moments craving his next drink. Incidently, both of his parents were alcoholics. His life and his parent's lives were tragedies. And I have read that pedophiles even say they have been pedophiles as long as they can remember - presumably they were born that way. I don't see us normalizing and legalizing pedophilia anytime soon - unless we first normalize and legalize gay marriage. Then we have no reason not to. Thanks House of Rep.s for being adults.

Russ;

Not sure I understand you - if DOMA is no longer defended in court, how does that continue to qualify as "enforced" if it still stands? I have to disagree with you. DOMA is law and it is not up to the Executive Branch to declare any laws unconstitutional - that is the Judiciary Branch's domain. Hamilton explained this in the Federalist Papers - and I want to say in Articles 47 - 51, but I'd have to check.

Discerning Believer -

I like your argument and have often used the illustration of a male lion defeating a male rival with a pride, taking over the new pride and killing the prior rival's cubs. Should we do this if we marry a woman with children from a prior marriage? Taking our moral cues from nature might make sense if nature could actually produce them. But, we cannot even know what that would look like.

Good Evening.

Maxx: I'll try to clarify my point: As long as a law is on the books, the executive branch and its subsidiaries can enforce it or not. Enforcing involves making sure people follow the law, and punishing those who DISOBEY the law. This has not changed with DOMA. E.g. they continue to deport same-sex spouses, but not heterosexual spouses. An entirely different question is whether the executive branch, through the Justice Dept., will stand up when someone CHALLENGES the law in the courts as unconstitutional. So they can make sure the law is OBEYED, but not try to keep the courts from agreeing with a CHALLENGE. Also, there's a difference between declaring an opinion, as the executive did, which can't nullify the law, versus declaring a verdict, which they did not do - as you said, only the judiciary can do the latter.
Shalom!