Earlier this week, Addictinginfo reported that nearly 2,000 military chaplains have pledged not to officiate same sex weddings. This goes against the fact that same sex weddings are now legal in the armed forces due to the recent repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and the announcement by the White House that it will no longer enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. But chaplains are vowing to not perform wedding ceremonies for same sex couples, which essentially means they intend to continue the discriminatory policies that have recently been repealed. So the question is, should military chaplains be forced to officiate same sex weddings when a soldier requests it?
Military chaplains should indeed be forced to perform marriage services for homosexual soldiers. For nearly two decades, gay soldiers were forced to obey DADT or be discharged. Not one gay soldier was exempt from this policy, and they certainly weren’t allowed to use their religion or personal beliefs as an excuse for special privileges. These 2,000 chaplains and the anti-gay Republican Party are pushing for a ‘right of conscience’ clause that would basically re-legalize discrimination against gay soldiers. In other words, they want to put the Bible before the Constitution and US law.
These chaplains should not get a pass. They shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind religion. These chaplains are members of the armed forces like every other enlisted man and officer. Soldiers follow orders, even ones they may not like. These military chaplains should be no different. The White House and the Pentagon has given an order. Chaplains are authorized to perform same sex marriages and ceremonies can take place in any military chapel.
If we allow chaplains to reject gay soldiers it would undermine the new policy. What stops the Christian Right Wing from training an army of volunteer chaplains to take over and implement their own policy? The military is volunteer after all. Republicans could fire chaplains that perform same sex weddings and replace them with their own trained drones. Every member of the military from the top general to the grunt on KP duty must follow orders regardless of their personal feelings. Soldiers take orders they don’t like all the time. Chaplains are soldiers too. Therefore, if they are ordered by the Commander in Chief to officiate same sex weddings, they have three choices; follow the order, resign, or be discharged. That’s what gay soldiers had to do during the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell era. They had to either obey the policy or be discharged. That’s just the way things are done in the military.
Will the right wing whine about this? Of course they will. They’ll whine and complain because they are hypocrites. They still complain about the Civil Rights Act because it makes discrimination by businesses illegal. But if we were to take out that part of the law, the entire policy would be undermined. In the South, severe discrimination against minorities is still widely practiced as we have seen with anti-immigrant laws and if allowed to do so, businesses in the South would re-institute segregation. And it wouldn’t just be local retail shops or restaurants. The way things work today, even schools and hospitals are being run as private businesses so you would see a brand new segregation movement in the South. That is precisely why we have the Civil Rights Act. And now that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has been repealed and the Defense of Marriage Act isn’t being enforced, gay soldiers no longer have to be discriminated against in the military.
Military chaplains must follow US law, especially military law, and a ‘right of conscience’ clause would only legalize their right to discriminate, thus undermining the new military policy. To be blunt, I don’t care how “holy” these people think they are, discrimination of any kind does not belong in the United States military and quite frankly, religion doesn’t belong there either. These chaplains have three choices. They can either man up and obey their oath to the laws of this country and the armed forced and officiate same sex weddings, resign their posts, or be discharged. The only chaplains that should be serving in the military are ones that will put their country and fellow soldiers above a bunch of Christian Right Wing extremists who consistently twist the Bible to suit their own wicked agendas. It’s despicable that these “men of God” would seek special privileges when under DADT gay soldiers had no privileges at all. Any chaplain that uses his or her Bible to justify discrimination against a fellow human being doesn’t deserve to be in the presence of God and they do NOT deserve to wear the uniform of the United States military.