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article imageGOP Rep. Akin targets LGBT troops with provision to defense bill

By Can Tran     Dec 25, 2012 in Politics
Representative Todd Akin (R-MO), before leaving the US House of Representatives, has added a provision called the "conscience clause" to the House version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
GOP Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, a Tea Party-leaning Republican, is still in the political spotlight to an extent. For the 2012 United States Election cycle, Akin ran for the United States Senate seat for Missouri. So far, Akin seemed to be going strong; but, he made a comment that would condemn his chances of winning the US Senate seat. That comment was about abortion in the case of rape. Akin wanted to make abortion illegal even in the case of rape. He talked about “legitimate rape” and saying if that the case, the female body has ways of shutting down the pregnancy. That comment hurt Akin's chance of winning that Senate seat. In short, Akin lost the race. Despite calls from other Republicans to drop out, Akin refused and kept on running insisting that he could still win the election.
While Akin isn't in the media much, he's still causing some sort of political fires. Akin, who is soon leaving the US House of Representatives, isn't done yet. It seems that he has some “loose ends to tie up.” As Akin not focusing on the issue of abortion, he's setting his sights upon the LGBT community; in particular, Akin's targeting members of the United States Armed Services who identify themselves as being LGBT. This comes to a provision that has been authored by Akin to be attached to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
With Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) being repealed, LGBT members can serve while being open about their sexual preferences. There are social conservatives that don't like it one bit. Akin's response is to author a “conscience clause” to be included in this bill. It was reported on the liberal-leaning news site called Mother Jones and also reported on the Huffington Post. Under Akin's “conscience clause,” the religious liberties of service members are protected. There are concerns that it allows “legal discrimination” against those who are open about their sexuality.
As Mother Jones reports, someone could cite their religious beliefs as a reason not to serve with anybody who identify as LGBT. Since this “conscience clause” can be broad, this can expand to troops refusing to serve alongside other people due to their differences in religious faiths. For the most part, this “conscience clause” can come off as discriminatory. But, this can be seen as legal discrimination.
According to Akin, as MJ reports, service members cannot be “persecuted for their views.” In this respect, this brings up the “moral gray area.” However, Akin's “conscience clause” provision has come into opposition.
The Outserve-Service Members Legal Defense Network, a group that supports LGBT rights, says that Akin's provision gives people special legal rights to discriminate against other people. As a result, according to the group, it somewhat brings DADT back. The White House even weighed in saying that Akin's “conscience clause” would be detrimental to the military in the future.
An article on the website called God Discussion, reporting on the same thing, reports that critics of the bill will require the armed services to accommodate people with views against the LGBT community. In this hypothetical respect, a service member could persecute a member of the LGBT community. In response, that service member would get into legal trouble; but, under the provision, that same service member can claim that s/he is being persecuted for their views.
In this respect, it's “tolerant intolerance.”
The article interviewed several people such as a military justice professor at Yale. According to the professor, Akin's provision fuels homophobia. Also, the professor said that people behind the provision simply want to do harm. In that respect, the professor feels that Akin has the intentions of causing damage to the US military.
But, the Pentagon has something different to say about the provision. According to an official from the US Department of Defense, the provision simply allows you to keep thinking those thoughts. In that respect, you can still be biased against people of different sexual preferences and/or religions. With that said, the official said that it's not the Defense Department's job to police the way people let alone service members think and feel. In short, you can think whatever you want to think provided that it doesn't threaten order and discipline.
Back to the MJ article, a Senate version of the bill has passed; but, that one doesn't have Akin's “conscience clause” in it. However, GOP Senators John McCain of Arizona and Howard McKeon of California want the Akin provision. McKeon goes by the nickname of “Buck.” The MJ article reports of McKeon being a huge opponent of LGBT rights. It reports McKeon being a donor to California's Proposition 8 campaign during the 2008 US Election cycle. Proposition 8 was a major and costly campaign for the state of California. Also, it reports of McKeon wanted a defense bill provision that legally bars military chaplains from performing same-sex marriages.
Currently, the issue of same-sex marriage is being brought up with the United States Supreme Court. This means the LGBT community is fighting a political battle on two fronts: Congress in regards to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and the same-sex marriage cases going before the US Supreme Court.
More about LGBT, lgbt rights, Don't ask don't tell, Dadt, dadt repeal
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