Obama signs defense bill but calls conscience protection "ill-advised"

HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed the $633 billion defense bill into law, but has criticized one of its provisions protecting conscience rights.

The provision exempts chaplains from ceremonies like same-sex weddings that they oppose based on their faith. It also says the military cannot punish chaplains or other service members for their religious beliefs and must accommodate them unless the individual's speech or actions threaten good order and discipline.

In a signing statement, Obama called the conscience provision "unnecessary and ill-advised" and said his administration remains committed "to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members."

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty responded that "the president is not at liberty to disregard the law" he signed.

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