Clinton Gets Defense Bill That Tightens Policy on Gays

Article excerpt

Congress sent President Bill Clinton a $261 billion defense budget Wednesday that endorses a more restrictive version of the White House policy on homosexuals serving in the armed forces.

By a vote of 77-22, the Senate adopted the authorization measure for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 - a package $2.6 billion less than the amount Clinton proposed and $12 billion below last year's level.

All four senators from Missouri and Illinois voted for the bill.

The House approved the legislation Monday. Clinton is expected to sign it.

One day after a federal appeals court ruled that the military ban on declared homosexuals was based on prejudice and served no legitimate purpose, the Senate voted for a policy designed to guide the courts on the issue.

The policy includes a series of findings that says Congress has the constitutional right to raise armies, maintain the Navy and set the rules for their operation.

The legislation states that military service is unlike anything in civilian life and that "the prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service."

Forced to abandon his campaign pledge to lift the ban outright, Clinton set a policy of "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" on July 19. It says that sexual orientation is not a bar to service but that open homosexuals will be forced out of the service.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn, D-Ga. …