By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com July 07 2011 3:55 PM ET
Update: The House of Representatives Thursday voted 248-175 for Rep. Virginia Foxx's amendment to the 2012 defense authorization bill restating the Defense of Marriage Act, one of three antigay measures proposed Wednesday as amendments to the bill.
“This amendment is completely unnecessary and only serves to cloud the debate over ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal by pointlessly injecting the issue of marriage equality into the conversation," Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said in a statement. "Since Pentagon officials have made it clear that they are bound by DOMA like every other federal agency, it’s puzzling why Rep. Foxx would question whether our military leaders understand this point."
DOMA has prohibited the federal government from recognizing marriages or other unions of same-sex couples since 1996, but the Obama administration is no longer defending the law in court, and the Justice Department last week filed a brief in one case urging that it be struck down as unconstitutional. House Republican leaders, however, have hired their own legal counsel to defend the antigay law.
Rep. Dan Burton, of Indiana, introduced two other amendments to the defense spending bill Wednesday. The first would prohibit federal funds from being used to facilitate civil unions or marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, as outlined by DOMA. The other would prevent the military from providing training on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal to personnel in combat zones.
"These three amendments demonstrate the wrong-headed priorities of anti-LGBT House members," wrote HRC legislative counsel Ty Cobb on the organization's Back Story Blog Wednesday. "Poll after poll recognizes that these are not the issues that struggling Americans prioritize. It is time for the House to wake up and recognize that we have bigger fish to fry than increasing discrimination against lesbians and gays in the military."