House affirms anti-gay Foxx amendment to Defense budget

Amendment would ban use of funds for same-sex couple benefits by U.S. military agencies

by Matt Comer  Editor
Published: July 8, 2011 in News

Originally published: July 7, 2011, 9:50 a.m.
Updated: July 8, 2011, 9:10 a.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A North Carolina congresswoman’s Defense Department budget amendment to restrict extension of  marriage and other relationship recognition benefits to same-sex couples passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

Virginia Foxx

Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, who represent’s North Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District, attached her amendment to the Department of Defense’s budget for the 2012 fiscal year. The amendment requires enforcement of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and bans any use of funds for “benefits, such as housing, education, medical services, transportation, etc., for same-sex couples on the same basis as opposite-sex married couples,” according to a fact sheet.

The amendment passed 248-175.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the amendment was unnecessary and indicative of Republicans’ efforts to “play politics with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people instead of tackling real problems.”

“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 in a statement. ” 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.”

He added, ” It will be up to the Senate to reject the House’s return to using LGBT Americans as a wedge issue.”

Equality North Carolina, the state’s LGBT advocacy organization, also spoke out against Foxx’s amendment.

“This targeting of gay servicemembers is deplorable.” Alex Miller, the group’s interim executive director and veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry, said in a statement.  “It is un-American, un-democratic and most certainly unjust. Representing a state with a large population of military personnel of all sexual orientations and gender identities, we stand in strong solidarity with these men and women and condemn this attempt at marginalization.”

Each of North Carolina’s six Republicans voted for the amendment. Democrats Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler also voted in favor of the provision. Democrats G.K. Butterfield, David Price, Mel Watt and Brad Miller voted against the amendment.

The Obama Administration has stopped defending DOMA in federal court, saying the law is unconstitutional.

The amendment was filed a day after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay on an earlier, lower court ruling declaring unconstitutional the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In December, President Barack Obama signed a repeal bill into law. The court said the government can no longer satisfy its standard for maintaining the stay. (Read more about the Ninth Circuit’s decision at the Washington Blade.)

Foxx made national news in in April 2009 when she called the hate-motivated murder of Matthew Shepard a “hoax.”