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House Committee Passes Anti-DADT Repeal Amendment

House Committee Passes Anti-DADT Repeal Amendment

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The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to bring to the floor the 2012 defense authorization bill with three antigay amendments -- one criticized by a gay service member advocacy group as "a shameful and embarrassing waste of time."

The three amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, all largely passed along party lines, would require the four service branch chiefs to sign off on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal; prohibit weddings for same-sex couples on military facilities by chaplains; and affirm that the Defense of Marriage Act applies to Defense Department policies.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, who earlier this year introduced legislation similar to the amendment offered Wednesday, said the added sign-off requirement for the service chiefs was necessary because those currently responsible for "don't ask, don't tell" repeal certification -- President Barack Obama, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- have never served in combat.

"I and others in this room have more combat experience than those who are going to sign off on this," Hunter said. The amendment passed 33-27.

Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, doubted that any of the amendments offered would ultimately pass in the Senate -- or be signed into law by President Obama. "The offering of this amendment was a shameful and embarrassing waste of time," Nicholson said of the Hunter amendment. "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."

Of the antigay amendments passed, Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member of the committee, said in a late Wednesday statement: "'Don't ask, don't tell' forces capable and willing young men and women out of our armed services and undermines national security. These amendments only seek to delay the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' and further undermine our military readiness."

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