What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Gay Rights : A vote on final passage of the Military Recruiter Equal Access to Campus Act (H R 3966), a bill that affords military recruiters open access to students even as the military denies access to its ranks based on an applicant's sexual orientation.
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A vote on final passage of the Military Recruiter Equal Access to Campus Act (H R 3966), a bill that affords military recruiters open access to students even as the military denies access to its ranks based on an applicant's sexual orientation.
house Roll Call 101     Mar 30, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

House conservatives prevailed in passing legislation (H R 3966), dubbed the Military Recruiter Equal Access to Campus Act, over the objections of progressives, who suggested the legislation was hypocritical in that it afforded open access to students even as the military denies access to its ranks based on an applicant's sexual orientation. In a 343-81 vote, the measure passed with the support of an overwhelming majority of House members, both Republican and Democrat. Progressives were especially aggrieved that they had been barred by the conservative majority from offering a Democratic motion to recommit, or send back, the bill to its drafting committee, in order to ensure a fuller discussion of progressives' concerns with the legislation. Said Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), "We need to talk about such issues as to whether everybody in this country is going to be treated equally with respect to being able to join the military." The measure was moved through committee with no hearings. However, conservatives argued that the measure was about providing "choice" and "opportunity" to students and introducing them to the benefits associated with a military career. "Bringing the prospects ... to be a leader in the Armed Forces of the United States, to be what most American citizens feel are our finest citizens, is a great opportunity. This bill will ensure that those people have that choice," said Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). But Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.), speaking for progressives, also railed against the fact that the bill "would broadly expand the prohibition on federal funding to schools that do not allow access to military recruiters when only one institution." Said Meehan, "I have serious concerns about restricting additional funding. ... This bill is a drastic solution to a problem that I do not think even exists." In fact, he added, "there is no crisis in military recruiting on student campuses or anywhere else in the country." He cited Defense Department statistics that "they are exceeding all of its recruitment and retention goals in each of the active duty services since 2001 and [they are] actively downsizing certain specialties requiring advanced degrees." Progressives' failure to block the legislation means the military can recruit on campus, notwithstanding an institution's specific policies barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or face losing federal funding.

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