HRC Blog

Republican Senators Introduce Bill “Protecting” Military Chaplains from Imagined Problem

Post submitted by Brian Moulton, Former HRC Legal Director

On the heels of last week’s study demonstrating that, one year later, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has had no negative impact on our nation’s military, anti-LGBT Republican Senators yesterday introduced legislation designed to solve “problems” that the study tells us simply do not exist.  The bill, called the Military Religious Freedom Protection Act, mirrors legislation introduced by some of the most anti-gay Republicans in the House earlier this year, including now-notorious Representative Todd Akin of Missouri. 

According to a press release from the Senate sponsors, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the bill is designed to stop the Obama administration’s efforts to “pressure military chaplains to fall in line with their liberal same-sex marriage agenda.”  It would institute special protections for all service members, requiring the military to provide “special accommodations” for their moral and religious views about human sexuality.  It specifically prevents chaplains from being required to perform any ceremony or duty “contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain.”  The bill also would prohibit the use of any Department of Defense facility for any “marriage or marriage-like ceremony” for a same-sex couple.     

Consistent with the pluralistic nature of our nation and its Armed Forces, existing military rules make clear the duty of chaplains to minister to all service members, regardless of their faith or other background.  No chaplain has been, or could be, required to celebrate a same-sex wedding if that chaplain or his faith tradition objected. 

As last week’s study clearly showed, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal has not created any “liberal same-sex marriage agenda” in our Armed Forces.  It has simply allowed courageous men and women to serve our nation openly and honestly. But Senators Wicker and Inhofe continue to attack those brave lesbian, gay and bisexual service members by introducing ridiculous legislation about invented burdens on chaplains and others who may not agree with DADT repeal.  With the many challenges facing our nation and our Armed Forces, it is sad and offensive that these Senators, and their counterparts in the House, waste time attacking a change that has made our nation’s military stronger and better. 

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