Kevin McCullough

A disturbing bit of news came out of the President's decision to sign our newest defense bill into law. The sizable bill ($633 Billion) covers the majority of the appropriations needed to run our nation's defenses for the next year.

I don't have an issue with it, the size of it, or the purpose of it.

In fact, I especially like provision 533 of the law. Because it put a check on the executive branch from being able to bully any further our military men and women, specifically those in uniform but who answer to a power much higher than one Barack Obama.

The provision specifically allows chaplains of all faiths to opt-out of being required to serve as an officiant or a celebrant at any "religious ceremony" that would conflict with their own deeply held religious faith.

To be clear, this provision has nothing to do with people who engage sexually--in any fashion. It has nothing to do with people who have ideas about how conservative or liberal the social mores of the day are (or should be.)

Instead it's sole language is aimed at giving 1st Amendment guarantees to military chaplains on issues that their faiths may find objectionable.

Because the President can't not sign a military spending bill--in order to keep our nation's defenses operating--he had to sign the measure, but in doing so he broke a "fundamental principle" that he held for many years--the inclusion of a signing statement.

In 2008 the President said this from the campaign trail:

"I disagree with that [issuing signing statements]. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States - we're not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress." - Barack Obama (May 2008)


Yet this seemed of little importance when he added this signing statement to the signature of the defense bill:

"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."