Southern Baptist Leader to Congress: Revoke Military Gay Marriage Policy

Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, is asking President Barack Obama and Congress to repeal the Pentagon's approval of gay weddings being performed on military bases and by military chaplains, according to the ERLC website.

In a letter written to House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Land states that he "strongly objects" to the announcement made by the Department of Defense on Sept. 30 granting permission for gay marriage ceremonies to take place on military grounds. A copy of the letter was also sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The announcement follows the recent repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy, which barred openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from serving in the military and forbade closeted military personnel from disclosing or talking about their homosexuality until it was revoked on Sept. 20, 2011.

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"We decry the Obama Administration’s actions to push its pro-homosexual agenda by targeting America’s armed forces," said Land in the letter. "We urge that immediate action be taken to protect the religious freedom and rights of conscience of military chaplains who object to same-sex unions. We also insist that the Administration rescind this decision and that the federal government adopt a policy consistent with federal marriage laws."

Land cited that he and the ERLC wish for the recent measure be revoked because military leaders and personnel had already expressed concerns over the repeal of the DADT policy, stating that its potential dangers during a period of war include creating "disunity" and a decreased military readiness. For the Pentagon to move forward with an even more extreme action only worsens these concerns.

In addition, the commission wishes for Congress to uphold legislation that has been approved and contains language establishing that marriage is defined as the unity reserved for a man and a woman, found in the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the House-passed Defense authorization bill for FY2012.

"We decry the DOD's decision, and we are outraged by the brashness of this attack on traditional marriage," Land said.

He added, "We urge swift action to repeal these decisions. We also implore Congress to immediately improve the conscience protections for military chaplains in the wake of this decision. We join over 2,000 chaplains in requesting Congress to enact the “Right of Conscience” clause in the Revised Title 10 code to protect the religious beliefs of military chaplains."

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