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Defense Authorization Bill Contains "Ill-Advised" Conscience Provision E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Thursday, 03 January 2013

Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the 2013 Defense Authorization Act, but took the time to note his opposition to many elements of the bill, including a controversial provision - Section 533 - that may require the military to accommodate the religious objections of military personnel. Mother Jones pulled the key religious accommodation language from the Defense bill:

"The Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs of a member of the armed forces reflecting the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member." It also states that "in so far as practicable, [the military] may not use such beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment."

In his signing statement (pdf), the President questioned the wisdom of such a measure.

Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that. 
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