The U.S. House approved on Thursday an amendment reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act as part of major Pentagon spending legislation.
Lawmakers voted in favor of the amendment, which was introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), by a margin of 248-175 as part of the fiscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill. The amendment would prohibit the use of Pentagon funds in contravention to the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
The measure comes on the heels of guidance the Navy issued in April stating military facilities could be used for same-sex marriages in states where it’s legal and chaplains could officiate over these ceremonies, if they so chose, in their official capacities. The Navy has since rescinded this guidance and said further review is necessary.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, rebuked the House in a statement for adopting the anti-gay measure as part of the defense appropriations bill.
“This amendment is completely unnecessary and only serves to cloud the debate over ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal by pointlessly injecting the issue of marriage equality into the conversation,” Solmonese said. “Since Pentagon officials have made it clear that they are bound by DOMA like every other federal agency, it’s puzzling why Rep. Foxx would question whether our military leaders understand this point.”
Solmonese called on the Democratic-controlled Senate “to reject the House’s return to using LGBT Americans as a wedge issue” in its version of the defense appropriations bill.
Six Republicans voted against the amendment: Reps. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Mario Diaz-Balart, Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
Additionally, 19 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment: Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), James Matheson (D-Utah), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Nich Rahall (D-W.V.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.).
The defense appropriations bill is different from the defense authorization bill, which was earlier approved by the House. An authorization bill permits the appropriations of funds for a department, but doesn’t allow the department to cut a check or enter into a contract. An appropriations bill, however, confers budget authority on federal agencies to incur obligations.
The House version of the defense authorization bill contains a similar measure reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act as well as other anti-gay measures. The Senate Armed Services Committee, however, left out these provisions in its version of the legislation.