Conservative groups say chaplains are likely to be the first victims of Saturday's repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
In the aftermath of the 65-31 Senate vote that did away with the 1993 ban on open homosexuality in the armed forces, religious legal defense group Alliance Defense Fund predicts that military chaplains will be the first to feel the effects of the repeal.
"The first official casualty of this hurried vote may well be the religious freedom of chaplains and service members," said ADF Litigation Counsel Daniel Blomberg in a statement.
He noted that chaplains may feel pressured to compromise their religious beliefs in light of the new legislation.
"No Americans, and especially not our troops, should be forced to abandon their religious beliefs. We hope that our nation's leaders will work to ensure that none of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are ever made to choose between serving their country or obeying their God as result of this damaging policy decision," he added.
Retired Army Chaplain Brig. Gen. Douglas Lee acknowledged that challenging times are up ahead.
"There's going to be tensions somewhere along the road," he told The Christian Post.
Lee is one of 200 national endorsers of chaplains to the military. Chaplains must be endorsed in order to serve in the military. He also mentors and encourages serving chaplains. He fears that America's chaplains will eventually be subjected to the same restrictions as their Canadian brothers.
"In Canada, they do not allow chaplains to preach [or] teach about homosexuality," Lee said.
In the present, Lee said he is encouraging chaplains to continue preaching and teaching in boldness in the face of the “don't ask, don't tell” repeal.
"We don't despair. We know [how] it is going to end up [according to the Bible]," he shared.
The passed legislation means that the ban on gays is going to be ended. However, military officials do not plan to immediately implement the repeal. Instead, it plans to allow for extensive training and policy adjustments.
After the Saturday passage of the DADT repeal, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released a statement stating, "I will approach this process deliberately and will make ... certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the services, commands and units."
He has already appointed retired Marine general and Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley to lead the Pentagon's planning efforts.
President Barack Obama and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of State must sign a letter guaranteeing that the changes will be in such a way that does not hurt military readiness. A full repeal of the Clinton-era ban will take effect two months after the letter is signed.
However, some groups are calling for an instant repeal.
University of California think tank the Palm Center urges the Congress to forego trainings and allow the ban to take hold now. Its new study relates that the Department of Defense has regularly passed policy changes prior to providing training. The report also reviews tools that the Pentagon uses to rapidly train the entire force and estimates proper training for the repeal could occur within a matter of weeks, if not days.
The report was written by former Air Force Maj. Aaron Freed, who was discharged in 2005 under DADT.
He told Politico, "While the services toil over more elaborate training programs, they will likely find, as so many other nations' militaries have found, that unit cohesion and combat effectiveness remained intact, that there were no 'enormous consequences,' and that this was all much ado about nothing."
Lee said he isn't surprised by Freed's insistence. "That's an example of how [gay rights advocates] will push to the end to get their agenda," he observed.
Lee encouraged Christians to pray and hold an optimistic view of the changes. "It's good to know there is an end to all of this drama because Jesus is Lord and we have the victory," he said.