It appears that those who have religious liberty concerns with DADT repeal are being told to shut up or ship out.
While homosexual advocacy groups are complaining that Service members who engage in homosexual behavior can’t speak up in support of DADT repeal (as if they needed more advocates with the Commander in Chief, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense on their side), it’s those who support keeping the current policy who are feeling the real heat. The last Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lost his job for informally expressing that his religious beliefs supported current law, and a top general received sharp criticism from Pres. Obama’s military leadership for merely suggesting that Service members share their opinions on repeal with Congress. Apparently, Service members are discouraged from exercising their constitutional franchise, and instead should provide their feedback to the same politically-appointed leadership that has already said DADT must be repealed.
So, what has been the experience of those trying to speak up in support of current policy? Decidedly one-sided. Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, stated that those Service members who disagree with repeal can “vote with their feet” and leave the military. A chaplain, speaking in one of the DADT repeal forums being held on military bases, asked the senior officer administering the meeting whether religious freedom would be protected in the wake of repeal and was told that, if the chaplain couldn’t affirm repeal, his only option was to just quit. And now the survey being circulated to Service members about repeal, while valuable in some ways, seems to be another indication that “the fix is in.” News reports are saying the survey “appears to lean heavily on questions about teamwork, performance, mission completion and morale…[It] asked how a repeal will affect the respondent’s likelihood of recommending military service to family members or close friends and their own continued service; and whether they personally know any gays, served with any gays and whether they were a leader or co-worker, and how well the unit performed.” Notably, there’s not a single question about the potential impact of repeal on religious liberty for chaplains and Service members.
There’s another serious flaw in this approach, one identified by an active duty Service member who recently wrote me about the reports on the survey:
To me, [the survey's questions] are all tactical “gotcha” questions. I’ve worked for someone I have a suspicion was gay. The unit performed just fine, there were no morale issues, etc. Based on the survey answers, the military could very well say “well, then, let’s repeal the ban!” That misses the point that suspecting someone is gay is not at all the same thing as working in an environment where such behavior is normalized – an environment that would ultimately be detrimental to the military’s effectiveness, performance, and morale. It also misses the strategic level question we should be asking: What is the impact of the military calling something “right” that is immoral? They could ask, for example, if I’ve ever worked with a person who lived with someone who wasn’t their spouse (which I have). The unit performed just fine, and there were no visible morale issues to speak of. That doesn’t mean the military should abandon its support of marriage and families or support that lifestyle.
A lot of people have repeated the quote “you just have to shoot straight, not be straight” to support the repeal. That, like the military’s apparent logic above, frames an argument of “we only care about the ends, not the means” – which is a type of thinking that has all kinds of ethical implications (mostly bad).
Character means something, but character is measured in morality and ethical conduct, not just whether you can shoot straight.
Service members have this kind of sophisticated moral clarity, it’s disappointing that some of our country’s leaders don’t share it. And, as an anonymous active-duty chaplain recently pointed out, losing moral clarity in an entity that must take human life is dangerous.
It’s wrong that the President is willing to discourage the constitutional rights of Service members to speak and express their opinions to Congress. It’s wrong that he is almost certainly sacrificing the free religious exercise rights of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines to fulfill a campaign promise.
Stay tuned for yet more evidence that normalizing homosexual conduct in the military will diminish the constitutional rights of our Service members, who are fighting and dying to preserve those rights for us.
The author of the quoted section is an active-duty Service member whose name is withheld to avoid censure for expressing these views. The views expressed are the author’s alone and do not represent those of the U.S. military.
If you’re a military chaplain, active or retired, and are interested in becoming involved in this issue or signing the Chaplains Letter, please contact us with your information.
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