On Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously signed off on its version of the Defense Authorization Bill for 2012. The bill - the main thrust of which is funding for defense programs and pay increases for troops - does not include antigay amendments pertaining to Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal, and it actually actively works toward LGBT equality.
Earlier this year, the House version of the defense bill included three key anti-gay amendments. Two expanded and reiterated the Defense of Marriage Act, and the third sought to delay the certification process for DADT repeal, which took place in December.
The committee also proposed the repeal of Article 125 in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is effectively a sodomy ban on consenting adults.
The article, which has been in effect for over a decade but has reportedly hardly been enforced in recent history, reads:
Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.
Alex Nicholson, the executive director of Servicemembers United, the gay U.S. military organization, responded to both triumphs in the Senate version of the bill. He said:
As predicted, the Senate Armed Services Committee has remained focused on serious military issues and has refused to waste time and taxpayer money trying to delay or stop the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law.
By proactively acting to remove Article 125 from the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Senate Armed Services Committee has also reaffirmed that it is committed to modernizing the U.S. military and its personnel policies, and to removing outdated provisions that have long been viewed as unnecessary and even ridiculous by military commanders on the ground.
Committee members reported they were confident that no antigay amendments would be reincorporated into the bill during discussion on the Senate floor.