House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blasted a Republican proposal that would protect military chaplains from performing same-sex marriages, saying the provision in unnecessary.
"Nobody is ordering them to do that," Pelosi told reporters Thursday. "I've never seen any suggestion that we're ordering chaplains to perform same-sex [marriages]. Where is that? I think that they can rest assured that if they don't believe in that, they don't have to perform those."
The issue surfaced after military chaplains expressed concern they would be ordered to marry same-sex couples against their personal beliefs and/or the beliefs of their denomination. Following President Barack Obama's announcement last week that he backs gay marriage, Republicans immediately proposed an amendment to the 2013 defense authorization bill that would protect chaplains from violating their conscience, moral principles and religious beliefs.
When asked by a reporter at her Thursday press conference if she supported the provision, Pelosi said she sided with the White House in opposing it.
"I do not support that provision in the bill, that part of the bill," she said. "I agree with the administration. And there's nothing that says that chaplains act against their faith."
Arguing that the issue was moot, she added, "Because it's a fraud. It's a – Welcome to the world of manufactured crises. Here's one."
Former Navy Chaplain James Klingenschmitt was lobbying all 26 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Friday on Capitol Hill and took exception to the minority leader's comments.
"I disagree with Rep. Pelosi. There are dozens of active duty chaplains who have been pressured to not speak against homosexuality," Klingenschmitt told The Christian Post. "I know of one Army and one Navy chaplain who have already resigned. Another active duty chaplain has been silenced, threatened and punished against speaking against 'don't ask, don't tell.' What they are saying is simply false."
The White House issued a statement on Tuesday verifying that the administration "strongly opposes" the provision, known as Section 536 that provides protection for the chaplains and Section 537 that says military facilities cannot be used to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
"Section 536 would prohibit all personnel-related actions based on certain religious and moral beliefs, which, in its overbroad terms, is potentially harmful to good order and discipline," noted the White House.
"Section 537 would obligate DOD to deny Service members, retirees, and their family members access to facilities for religious ceremonies on the basis of sexual orientation, a troublesome and potentially unconstitutional limitation on religious liberty."
Klingenschmitt expects the White House to threaten to veto the proposal but there a number of Democratic senators such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia who are starting to distance themselves from President Obama on this issue.
"I'm confident we'll have this provision in the final bill, but it's a 50-50 chance at this point."
The House voted 299-120 to approve the Defense Authorization Act late Friday afternoon. However, the bill faces a steep battle in the Senate.