Congress keeps sodomy ban in defense bill
The House-Senate conference committee has kept the military’s current policy on sodomy in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.
In a move that riled some social conservatives, the Senate version of the legislation repealed Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibits “unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal.” The article criminalizes all forms of sodomy, including consensual heterosexual or homosexual acts.
In an effort to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA, the conference committee dropped the repeal.
“We are very disappointed that the conferees voted to keep the sodomy provisions in Article 125,” said Aubrey Sarvis of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “Dropping Article 125 has been recommended for more than a decade by SLDN and several groups, including the Cox Commission that includes distinguished legal scholars from the military and academia, as well as the Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG).”
“The Senate was right to take this action, and it is unfortunate that their attempt to end Article 125 did not prevail. SLDN will continue to work with the Senate, House, and Department of Defense to bring about this needed change.”
The removal of language repealing Article 125 was a blow to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates. But the conference committee also dropped provisions that would have prohibited the military from recognizing the legal marriages of same sex couples and prevented military chaplains from participating in same sex marriage ceremonies.
The House and Senate must both approve the final version of the bill before it heads to the president’s desk.
Photo credit: Bilerico Project