This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) that would prohibit funds provided by a Defense Department bill from being used for a training program for military chaplains on implementing a new law that allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. The training program in question also included guidelines for chaplains on performing same-sex marriages for servicemembers from states where same-sex marriage is legal. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Specifically, President Obama had signed into law legislation repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military’s policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. The military had drafted a training program for military chaplains on how to perform their duties under the new law--which allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly. Huelskamp’s amendment would prohibit funds provided by the underlying Defense bill from being used to carry out such a training program.
Huelskamp urged support for his amendment: “I rise this evening to ensure that America's military bases are not used to advance a narrow social agenda. Earlier this year, the Navy chief of chaplains announced that military chaplains who desire to perform same-sex marriages would be allowed to do so following the repeal of the policy known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The directive said that chaplains could perform same-sex ceremonies in such States where such marriages and unions are legal. Apparently, the Navy has recently backed away from such instruction, but tepidly and weakly, and in a way that leaves the door open to the reinstatement of this policy. This amendment I offer will prohibit the enforcement of the directive of allowing chaplains to perform same-sex marriages on Navy bases regardless of whatever a State's law is on gay marriage. In thinking about what has made our military successful, two things come to my mind: conformity and uniformity. Men and women who join our military are to conform to the military's standards, not the other way around.”
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) opposed Huelskamp’s amendment: “…This amendment strikes a very dangerous precedent for Congress to somehow micromanage the training processes of military chaplains. We have military chaplains from diverse faith backgrounds. We have many faiths--in fact, the majority of faiths that, for instance, don't sanctify gay marriage. We have other faiths. The one that I happen to belong to--I am a member of a reformed Jewish faith--and there are many other Christian faiths, including the Episcopalian faith, which do sanction same-sex unions. Likewise, it's an important part of chaplain training that they're allowed to counsel against, for instance, homosexual acts or extramarital heterosexual acts. That's a part of chaplaincy training as well. For Congress to interfere with the military processes of chaplaincy training is absurd and unprecedented.”
The House agreed to Huelskamp’s amendment by a vote of 236-184. Voting “yea” were 227 Republicans and 9 Democrats. 175 Democrats and 9 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that would prohibit funds provided by a Defense Department bill from being used for a training program for military chaplains on implementing a new law that allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. In order for this amendment to become law, however, it would have to pass the Senate.