Obama Signs Defense Authorization Act Including Religious-Freedom Exemption

military_menLate Wednesday night, the White House announced President Obama had signed H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013, into law.

The bill, the subject of extensive scrutiny in 2012, include a measure protecting opposition to homosexuality as an expression of religious or moral values.

Section 533 of NDAA requires the Armed Forces to accommodate the religious principles of all members of the military. In the right hands, that would just mean allowing service members to practice the faith of their choosing—as they currently can.

In the wrong hands, though, it could be used as a weapon: The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy claims Section 533 is “unprecedented, sweeping, and could invite dangerous claims of a right to discriminate against not just lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, but also women, religious minorities, and in the provision of health care.”

We can thank Rep. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin for 533, by the way: the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to NDAA he pitched that specifically required beliefs  “concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality” to be accommodated.

How come we can never claim equality as a religious value and complain when homophobes want to discriminate?

Obama said he signed the bill—commenting that “the Constitution does not afford the President the opportunity to approve or reject statutory sections one by one”—but was clear about his opposition to several parts, including 533.

“…Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct.

My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.”

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  • vonlmo

    Looking forward to the Aryan Brotherhood’s claim that their religious beliefs exclude serving w black soldiers. Just remember that you voted for Obama because the other guy was worse.

  • Gigi Gee

    @vonlmo: He was worse. You don’t really seem to know how things work in Washington when the opposition is The Party of No. They keep throwing up roadblocks and the Democrats are forced to make concessions or else nothing will ever get done. I’m glad that the President has been very vocal about the GOP and how petulant they’ve been during the Fiscal Cliff discussions. Even Chris Christie blasted the obstructionist Teabaggers.

  • Brian

    Obama will throw us under the bus now.

  • Seth

    Try this:
    “I think it a tad ill-advised, but I’m ‘reluctantly’ signing this bill into law, legalizing discrimination against negroes, because we can’t let a little thing like human rights stand in the way of regularly funding the biggest and hungriest military-industrial death machine in the known universe. My Administration remains fully committed to equal rights for all, except in the case where a minority lacks the influence to compel the Administration to adhere to the word and spirit of the Law, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. In the future, I encourage minorities to properly exercise their influence in the form of cash transactions, as does every worthy special interest group.”

  • Allie

    Not a defence, seeing as how the whole thing is fucked up, not just that one clause.

Comments are closed.