Friday, September 23, 2011

Religious Reactions to Don't Ask Don't Tell's Repeal

This is how Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission chose to react to Don't Ask Don't Tell's recent repeal:
I think there's a grave concern on the part of the Southern Baptist chaplains that I've talked to in all branches of the service that their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religious free exercise are going to be either extinguished or severely limited in the near future and they're very, very, very concerned. I believe that if we get a Republican president, we're going to hear the senior officers in all of the branches singing a very different tune than the one they're singing now. I know they're under a tremendous amount of pressure to go along with this political experimentation with our military, which is totally uncalled for. It's just a disgrace that this is going on.
Compare that to Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, the United Church of Christ's executive and minister for LGBT Concerns:
Eighteen years ago the 19th General Synod of the United Church of Christ called for an end to the ban against gays and lesbians in the military. The resolution supported “the development of just and uniform standards of sexual conduct for all military personnel.”

United Church of Christ leaders have advocated that no category of citizens of the United States should be regarded as second class and singled out for discrimination. All should be afforded equal opportunity and equal protection under the Constitution. Under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy more than 13,000 gays and lesbians were discharged and an uncounted number of others left prior to completing full careers due to the pressures it imposed.

With the repeal, gay, lesbian and bisexual service members will no longer be forced to deny who they are as persons or maintain lives of secrecy and separation from their service comrades. They will be free to acknowledge their orientation and their loved ones, and rest secure in the knowledge that should they be killed or wounded their loved ones will be notified.

It is important to note that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell applies only to sexual orientation and not to gender identity. Transgender people continue to suffer the injustice of not being allowed to serve openly in the military. Although transgender service members will no longer be discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, they may continue to be barred from enlisting or serving openly under other provisions of the military code. Like the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policies, the bans on service by transgender people are also based on stereotypes and a lack of accurate information. The military should take immediate action to repeal these policies, as well.
One denomination is celebrating and looking forward towards overcoming additional forms of discrimination.  The other denomination is looking backwards and advocating for the return of institutional discrimination.  God Bless the UCC.

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