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Religious Tolerance logo

2011-SEP/OCT: Allowing military chaplains to
conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies

3. Catholic church discriminates.
Media and public reactions.

Sponsored link.

We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
"DOMA" refers to the Defense of Marriage Act

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This topic is continued from Part 2

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Additional conservative Christian discrimination:

Taylor Henry spoke for the Military archdiocese in the Roman Catholic Church. This is a special section of the Church for the military. When asked whether the Catholic chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point -- which is controlled by the Catholic Church -- will permit SSMs, he responded:

"The answer is no. Under no circumstances will a Catholic military chaplain perform same-sex weddings." 1

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Reactions from both the religious and gay-positive media:

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network -- a gay-positive group -- said that Stanley's memo "strikes the right balance" by permitting same-sex marriages while respecting the religious freedom of chaplains to discriminate against loving, committed same-sex couples if they wish. Sarvis said:

"We are pleased the Department of Defense has made it clear that a military Chaplain is allowed to perform any lawful ceremony that is consistent with his or her beliefs and is not required to perform a ceremony that is inconsistent with those beliefs. We are also pleased that access to military facilities will be granted on a sexual-orientation-neutral basis.

The guidance issued today strikes the right balance between respecting the faith traditions of chaplains and affording all service members the same rights under current law. This is another logical step in the direction of full equality for gay and lesbian service members."

Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry -- another gay-positive group -- said the memos reflect the "basic constitutional rights and respect for marriage" that service members and everyone else in the country deserve. He said:

"Discrimination has no place in the military, or in marriage, and of course people, gay or non-gay, should be able to celebrate their love and commitment in ceremonies without interference by the government. ... In the months ahead, Americans will see gay service-members getting married, surrounded by loved ones, and will get an even better understanding of how the freedom to marry helps families while hurting no one, increasing support for an end to marriage discrimination." 2

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemember United -- another gay-positive group -- said:

"Now that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is gone, there is nothing prohibiting chaplains whose denominations do not discriminate from treating same-sex couples equally in accordance with state and local laws. There are many chaplains in the military who simply do not believe that gay and lesbian servicemembers are second-class citizens, and those chaplains should have the freedom to practice their religion as they see fit, including officiating at ceremonies that their denominations recognize." 2

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Reaction by the public to media articles:

Readers of Christianity Today are probably mostly religious conservatives. Four postings to CT's article 3 were:

  • Brother Raymond: "This is why it is getting more questionable for Christians to even fight in this military. Do we join hands with an institution that defies God and calls evil good and good evil. WAKE UP CHRSITIANS! [sic] The bible says to come out from among them and be separate, not to touch the unclean thing. Any Chaplin that would commit this wicked act is a false prophet. I am sure we are going to see an exodus of true, good, Christian men from the military as the climate gets more and more hostile to genuine faith. A recent article stated that now transgender cross dressers are demanding admission in the military as well. It will not end well."

  • Adam Harwood: "This action is in direct violation of federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (signed into law by Pres. Clinton in 1996). Why does our president, who used to teach constitutional law, lead his administration to continually violate the law?"

  • "Thomas: "I am glad that Military further states that 'Further a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion.'

    I don't understand your statement 'This is why it is getting more questionable for Christians to even fight in this military.' Do you intended to leave US because US Govt. allow gay marriages?"

  • "It will be interesting to see whether or not military chaplains who claim to follow Jesus Christ and His Word will be ables [sic] to remain as chaplains in the Armed Forces." 3

Readers to the Washington Blade article 2 are probably mostly from the LGBT community. One posted a comment to the Blade's article:

  • "Bob:" This truly ought not to be a controversial issue, since it merely permits a legal activity without requiring it. But look for some ... to get bent out of shape over it anyway. (Offensive term deleted)

", a web site about "celebrity, sex and fashion" apparently has a much more liberal readership. On their article about Stanley's memo, two of their readers commented:

  • "DoublyLinkedLists:" "Here's what's confusing about this for me: Repealing DADT is now leading to more gay marriages and the right wing DIDN'T use this in their campaign against the repeal? I'm shocked!"

  • "LlamaLord:" "It's a delicate issue for the the right wing. On the one hand, [they believe that] gays are totally evil and gay marriage will cause 'real families' to spontaneously combust. On the other hand, [they believe that] anyone not supporting the troops is probably part of Al Qaeda. Gays are always evil and troops are always good, therefore when encountering actual gay troops instead of hypothetical ones, right wingers get a sort of 'deer in the headlights' look. That's the problem with both Sith and Republicans: they only speak in absolutes." 4

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This topic continues in Part 4

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Paul Stanley, "Evangelical Chaplains Refuse to Marry Gay Couples on Military Bases," The Christian Post, 2011-OCT-06, at: **
  2. Chris Johnson, "Pentagon: Chaplains may officiate over same-sex weddings," Washington Blade, 2011-SEP-30, at:
  3. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, "Military Chaplains allowed to perform gay weddings," Christianity Today, 2011-SEP-30, at:
  4. "Military Chaplains Will Now Perform Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies," Jezebel, 2011-OCT-01, at:
  5. Amanda Winkler, "Gay Soldier Allowed to Bring Partner to Military Event," Christian Post, 2011-OCT-20, at: **
  6. Clifford Stanley, "Military Chaplains," Under Secretary of Defense, 2011-SEP-30, at:

** Warning: We often receive "Reported Attack Page" warnings from Google when accessing many Christian Post articles. The notice on 2011-OCT-31 states: "Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer. Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 2 time(s) over the past 90 days." We recommend caution.

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-NOV-07
Author: B.A. Robinson
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