Chaplains opposed to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal coming under pressure

November 3, 2010

Washington D.C., (CNA).- A federal court has again reinstated the U.S. military’s policy against open homosexuals in service. While military chaplains are “hopeful” the policy will stay in place, some have been told they should “just get out” if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is repealed.

On Monday two of the three judges on the panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted a judge’s order which forbade the enforcement of the U.S. military’s policy against open homosexuals in the armed forces.

The judges in the majority said they agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice that a federal district court judge’s global injunction against the policy “will seriously disrupt ongoing and determined efforts by the Administration to devise an orderly change” if such a change will happen.

The case will be “moot” if the administration persuades Congress to eliminate the policy, the two judges added. They said four other federal appeals courts’ decisions cast doubt on whether the lower court judge exceeded her authority and ignored existing legal precedents.

District Court Judge Virginia Phillips had ruled that homosexuals could not serve in the military without having their First Amendment Rights breached.

President Barack Obama has opposed the policy and has worked to end it legislatively. The Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual group, has been trying to overturn the policy through the federal judiciary.

CNA spoke about the ruling with Daniel Blomberg of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is working with retired military chaplains opposed to repealing the policy.

He called Monday’s ruling a “very good” decision that protects the religious rights of those in service, but he warned of the consequences of a repeal.

“The chaplains are very hopeful that military will continue to maintain the policy which protects both soldiers and soldiers’ religious liberties,” he explained.

While the chaplains’ opposition to the policy change includes concerns with issues like military readiness, their specific concern is that religious faith “will be discriminated against in favor of the new political correctness that will be imposed by the Obama administration,” Blomberg added.

Asked about reports that active chaplains can be accused of insubordination if they publicly oppose changes to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ADF attorney said that the servicemen have been informed through their chain of command that “they should not be commenting on this at this time.”

“One chaplain stood up in a high-level meeting created precisely for the purpose of getting service members’ thoughts on the repeal of the policy. And he asked ‘What should chaplains do? What should people of faith do if this policy changes and we have problems of conscience with how it’s going to affect us?’” Blomberg said.

“That individual was told by a high-ranking member of the panel that they should just get out of the military.”

Blomberg noted this chaplain’s experience bore similarities to a Washington Times report that Army Lt. General Thomas Bostick compared opposition to allowing open homosexuals in the military to opposition to racial integration. The ADF attorney also acknowledged that the army has disputed the accuracy of the Times report.

However, such sentiments are also found in proponents of homosexuals openly serving in the military such as Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

“My heart doesn’t bleed for these chaplains,” he told the Associated Press in a story on the chaplains’ concerns. “If you don’t like it, there’s a very simple solution: Fold your uniform, file the paperwork and find something else to do.”

Blomberg reported that congressional opponents of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy have added non-discrimination regulations to the relevant bill. The original language would treat homosexuality under “a form of class protection like you would see for race or sex.”

Because chaplains have officer proficiency reports like any other officer, they will be judged on whether they are complying with the equal protection goals of the military.

If the policy is repealed, Blomberg explained, “one of those goals will be being supportive of the military’s mission of incorporating and supporting homosexual behavior in the military.”

“The concern of the chaplains is if they counsel, if they preach, if they do their ethical teaching duties,  and indicate that homosexual behavior is not good, or is a form of sin, then they would be treated as if they had said being black is sinful, or being a woman is wrong. That would be viewed as on that same level of discrimination.”

Blomberg deemed the proposed change to be “very far reaching.”

Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy J. Broglio has opposed repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In an interview with CNA last month, he warned of a “latent” danger to religious liberty in the agenda advanced by some people in the name of tolerance.

“(T)here is an agenda to force everyone to accept as normal and positive behavior that is contrary to the moral norms of many religions, including the Catholic Church,” he commented, voicing concern that teaching morality or forming young people in their faith could be misconstrued as intolerance


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