(Photo: AP Images / Alex Brandon)
An organization representing more than 2,000 of the nation’s 5,000 military chaplains announced Wednesday they would join forces with Catholic Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Service, saying they will not perform same-sex ceremonies.
The 2,000 members of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, a group of evangelical clergy, are concerned about the Pentagon’s memorandum – issued 10 days after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal took effect – that authorizes chaplains to officiate “any private ceremony.” A Sept. 20 order lifted the military’s long-standing DADT policy, allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the armed forces.
While the memorandum acknowledged a chaplain’s right to not participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies the new policy makes it clear that the Pentagon has placed the military in the midst of a deeply controversial issue during a time of ongoing war.
Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and a retired Army chaplain said, “By dishonestly sanctioning the use of federal facilities for ‘marriage counterfeits’ that federal law and the vast majority of Americans have rejected, the Pentagon has launched a direct assault on the fundamental unit of society – husband and wife.”
The Department of Defense memo authorizes military chaplains to conduct same-sex ceremonies on or off military bases and make military property, such as a chapel, available on a “neutral-to-sexual-orientation” basis. However, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and has increasingly been under attack since President Obama took office in 2009.
Although the military’s memorandum acknowledging a chaplain’s right to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage was outlined in the memo, Crews is still concerned that some chaplains will be discriminated against by holding true to their biblical principles of considering homosexuality a sin and not in God’s will.
“Yes, we’re concerned that chaplains who refuse to perform the ceremonies will not be considered what the military calls, ‘a team player,’” Crews told The Christian Post. “There’s an unspoken rule that you’ve got to go along with the system if you want to advance and I’ve already heard rumblings that some chaplains are been reassigned for forwarding certain emails on the issue.”
Congress has also taken notice of the issue. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), released a statement shortly after the Department of Defense memo surfaced, saying, “DOMA clearly applies to the Department of Defense.”
“The Department of Defense has decided to put the White House’s liberal agenda ahead of following the law,” Akin said in his statement. “The Defense of Marriage Act makes it clear that for the purposes of the federal government, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. The use of federal property or federal employees to perform gay marriage ceremonies is a clear contravention of the law.”
Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council also weighed in on the issue.
“It is outrageous that only 10 days after the repeal of the law against homosexuality in the armed forces, the Department of Defense is already pushing the military further down the slippery slope,” Perkins said in a written statement. “The repeal law passed by the lame-duck Congress last year said nothing about authorizing same-sex ‘weddings’ on military bases or by military chaplains.”
The Catholic chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point, a chapel controlled by the Catholic Church, will not be allowing homosexual marriages, according to the archdiocese spokesman Taylor Henry.
“The answer is no. Under no circumstances will a Catholic military chaplain perform same-sex weddings,” Henry told Military.com News.