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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. DAVIS of California. I thank Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith for their leadership, and Chairman Wilson for making our subcommittee work a bipartisan effort. I also want to thank the staff for producing this important piece of legislation.

I am pleased the bill includes provisions that are important to our men and women in uniform, such as a 1.7 percent pay raise, improvements and additional efforts to combat sexual assault, transition assistance for members leaving the service, and Impact Aid funding for our military children.

However, I am concerned because the majority on this committee adopted several amendments that distract from the wonderful work that we have done. Two provisions deal with gays in the military. The first would prohibit same-sex marriage ceremonies from being performed on military installations.

Mr. Chairman, we already had this debate, and the American people support gays and lesbians openly serving in our military. Denying a servicemember the ability to use a military facility to hold a ceremony that others have access to is wrong and it's discriminatory. But most importantly, that ceremony would not be in violation of DOMA because DOMA only states that a marriage is between a man and a woman. It literally does not say anything else.

The second provision that was passed in committee is even more troubling to me. This provision would seek to protect the religious beliefs of chaplains and servicemembers. The issue of protecting the religious beliefs of chaplains was already addressed last year, and the law on this is very clear:

A military chaplain who, as a matter of conscience or moral principle, does not wish to perform a marriage may not be required to do so.

So this really comes down to protecting discriminatory acts against gays and lesbians in uniform, which is contrary to the military core values of good order and discipline. I hope we can resolve this issue in a way that does not allow discrimination against a group of servicemembers based solely on their sexual orientation.


Mrs. DAVIS of California. The other issue I want to raise--and several of my colleagues have raised this already--is the fact that this bill is $8 billion over the Budget Control Act. While we made a number of decisions to restore cuts from the President's budget, we will need to resolve this difference at some point, and this means that programs will need to be cut. My hope is that the pay and benefits of our brave men and women will not be the bill-payer when we must reduce spending in this bill.


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