Anti-LGBT amendment stripped from defense bill

Posted on 30 Nov 2016 at 9:26am
Steve Russell

Rep. Steve Russell

The Russell Amendment was removed from the National Defense Authorization Act after lawmakers received more than 342,000 petition signatures collected by the American Military Partner Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Human Rights Campaign and other national organizations.

Known as the Russell Amendment, the measure in the NDAA could have allowed taxpayer-funded discrimination against women, single mothers, LGBT people and religious minorities in religiously-affiliated organizations, including hospitals and universities.

“Taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people is wrong — plain and simple,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “The fact that the defense spending bill was being used in an attempt to fund discrimination against minorities is disturbing. Thousands of LGBT service members put their lives on the line for our nation, and they and their families should never face discrimination here at home simply because of who they are or whom they love. We are pleased that in the end, lawmakers removed the discriminatory measure and fairness and equality seem to have prevailed.”

The amendment that would have authorized discrimination was named for its author, Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla.

The Russell Amendment could have allowed for an individual:

• To be fired for marrying a same-sex partner — or denied benefits afforded to other married couples
• To be fired for being transgender
• To be fired for being a woman taking birth control
• To be fired for being a single mother or
• To be refused a job interview if they don’t practice the “right” religion

The Russell Amendment was previously adopted in the dead of night — over bipartisan opposition — without a hearing and with almost no debate. The House Rules Committee then prevented the full chamber from being able to vote on a bipartisan amendment to remove the discriminatory provision from the defense bill.

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