May 10, 2012

The American Taliban in the House took front row center yesterday in what was ostensibly a markup for the 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill. Things didn't quite work as planned in their marathon session.

via Fox News:

The House Armed Services Committee labored throughout the day Wednesday and into the wee hours of Thursday morning, crafting a massive Pentagon funding measure. But the heat yielded by the gay marriage issue was so incandescent that it cauterized traditional military topics and spurred the feistiest debate of the marathon session.

Most of these lengthy Armed Services meetings are sprinkled with discussions about MRAPs, JDAMs, engines for the Joint Strike Fighter and troop rotations.

But the colloquy about providing for the common defense of the United States devolved into a debate about stoning, sin, parsonical rights, "gayness" and canonical interpretations of the Old Testament.

Steven Palazzo (R-MS) wanted a provision banning same-sex marriages ceremonies on all military facilities. Todd Akin (R-MO) wanted a "conscience clause" so that military chaplains could refuse to wed gay and lesbian couples. And on and on it went. For hours.

Loretta Sanchez and other Democrats took the "conscience clause" to it's logical conclusion, wondering what happens when a service member just doesn't believe in others' "gayness". Austin Scott (R-GA) took exception to her reasoning, especially using the nasty bits from the Old Testament about stoning and putting gays to death.

Again, Chad Pergram at Fox's Politics Blog captured some of the exchange between Austin Scott (R-GA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).

But Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) took particular issue with Akin's amendment. In addition to giving protection to chaplains, Akin's effort shields service members morally opposed to homosexuality.

Sanchez posed a hypothetical scenario to her colleagues about the consequences service members might face if they didn't, as she put it, "believe in ‘gayness.'"

Her use of the word "gayness" triggered chortles from the audience and raised the eyebrows of lawmakers and Congressional aides alike, stationed on the hearing room dais.

Sanchez then dipped into an interpretation of the Scriptures.

"Let's just say I read the Bible and it says gays should be killed. Stoned," Sanchez began.

Lawmakers who were slumped in their chairs suddenly sat up, ram-rod straight. Those listening to the proceedings, leafing through copies of Roll Call set the publications aside. Reporters posted in the back of the hearing room began pecking feverishly on laptop keyboards. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and other GOP members shot steely glances at Sanchez and demanded doctrinal clarification from the Bible.

Moments later, Sanchez quoted Scripture.

"If you read Leviticus 20:13, it says man must be put to death if man has sexual relations with not a woman," Sanchez said.

"That's the Old Testament," protested Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA).

"It's the Bible!" shot back Sanchez.

Scott then blasted Sanchez, declaring he was "taken aback by those comments." She tried to get a word in edgewise, inquiring if the Georgia Republican would yield.

"I am not yielding any more time to you," snapped Scott. "I have heard enough."

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