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Some anti-gay parts of US defense bill dropped

Military chaplains would be able to marry same-sex couples but sodomy would remain a crime
Aubrey Sarvis

Several anti-gay amendments have been eliminated from the proposed $662 billion defense bill to be considered by President Barack Obama.

Gone from the final bill, passed by a conference committee of the House and Sentate this week, is language that would have banned military chaplains from performing same-sex marriages. Also gone is a ban on military facilities being used for such ceremonies.

But it's not all good news: the current language does allow chaplains who don’t want to perform same-sex weddings to opt out of doing so and consensual sodomy would continue to be classified as a crime.

The proposed defense bill is the first since the official end of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy that prevented gay and lesbian personnel from being open about their sexuality.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran, congratulated the House and Senate conference committee for striking a 'correct balance' on the chaplains provisions.

He said in a statement Tuesday: 'This report demonstrates that a majority in Congress remains committed to, and in lock step with the Pentagon, in ensuring that we stay on the repeal course adopted by the last Congress and signed off on by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.' 

Still, Sarvis expressed disappointment that the committee voted to keep sodomy provisions intact.

'SLDN will continue to work with the Senate, House, and Department of Defense to bring about this needed change,' he said.

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