Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chaplain Group: Post-DADT Gay Wedding Rule Not At All Troubling

Early this month, I wrote about a new guidelines issued by the Pentagon that allows military chaplain to perform wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian service members.  No chaplain is required to officiate at any wedding ceremony -- gay or het.  These gay weddings can be held either on or off of Defense Department property.  And these wedding ceremonies can only occur in states or communities where marriage equality is legal, such as Iowa, Massachusetts, or Washington D.C. 

I then followed up with a blog-post about statements made by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and the Catholic Archdiocese for Military Services who want the Department of Defense and the rest of the world to know that they absolutely will not allow any of their chaplains to perform any wedding ceremonies for gay or lesbian service members.

Now ABC News is reporting that many chaplains don't really believe that this policy will affect them one way or the other:
However, military chaplains contacted by ABC News say whatever decisions they make about performing such unions will depend less on the political arena and more on religious principles and personal conscience. “The Pentagon can issue a policy change concerning the performance of same-gender ceremonies by chaplains. However, the Pentagon doesn’t generate religion as such,” says Gary Pollitt, a spokesman for the Military Chaplains Association, which represents 1,600 current and retired military chaplains. In an e-mail statement he adds, “A military chaplain conducts religious ceremonies and rites in keeping with the canons [or beliefs, doctrine, policies] of the religious faith group that endorses that chaplain. Each faith group defines the parameters for religious rites and the clergyperson’s individual discretion [if any] with those rites.
The article goes on to point out that chaplains associated with the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church are both fine with allowing its chaplains the option of officiating at gay and lesbian wedding.  The National UCC denomination officially supports and affirms marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, while the Episcopal Church of the USA doesn't officially recognize our marriages but they will bless them (How convoluted is that?):
The United Churches of Christ is one of the few Christian denominations that allows its ministers to perform same-sex marriages or blessings of same-sex unions in the states that allow them. Rev. Stephen Boyd, the Minister of Government and Professional Chaplaincies for the United Churches of Christ, says the 55 to 60 military chaplains from his denomination will use their personal conscience to help them decide whether to perform a sex-same marriage for a service member. However, Boyd says any service member who wishes to have a military chaplain perform a same-sex marriage will bear the responsibility for finding a military chaplain willing to preside over such a ceremony. “They have the responsibility to find those chaplains,” Boyd says. “They can’t expect every chaplain to do this carte blanche... but those chaplains are there,” says Boyd.
Predictably, the Catholic church is bleating about religious liberty and the violation of DOMA, while ignoring the religious liberties of UCCers and gay and lesbian service members who are fortunate enough to connect with a willing gay-affirming chaplain.  Additionally, at least on Republican lawmaker is so opposed to gay and lesbian families that he has pledged to oppose the passage of the annual defense authorization bill unless all chaplains are refused the option of performing wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

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