Naturally, this has outraged some members of Congress who are complaining.
The issue of military chaplains is one that the anti-equality forces have raised. The military, moving with due speed, has made it explicit that military chaplains have wide latitude and are not required to preach or do anything that conflicts with their religious views. However, as the Forum on Military Chaplaincy points out, there are many chaplains who work to support LGBT people in the service. Their religious freedom is indeed impinged by laws that prevent them from acting their beliefs. As they say,
It is about time there is a strong voice for people of faith who can no longer stand by and see religion used as a weapon against patriotic Americans who want to serve their country.
Here is the way to look at it:
Anti-gay chaplains: if anyone anywhere performs same sex blessings, MY religious freedom is impinged
Pro-equality chaplains: if I can't perform marriages, MY religious freedom is impinged.
As the Navy makes explicit,
"If the base is located in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, then base facilities may normally be used to celebrate the marriage," the memo read.Religious freedom means EVERYONE has freedom. It does not mean that YOU have freedom to tell ME what to believe.Bishop Gene Robinson, famously gay Bishop of the Episcopal Church lays it out here.
"There's been no change in policy, the only change that occurred was in training," Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant Alana Garas said in a telephone interview.
"It (the memo) emphasizes repeatedly that chaplains will not be required to officiate same-sex weddings if it's contrary to the tenets of their faith," Garas added.
Why is this so difficult to grasp?
Unfortunately, the Navy has backed down.
Under pressure from more than five dozen House lawmakers, the Navy late Tuesday abruptly reversed its decision that would have allowed chaplains to perform same-sex unions if the Pentagon decides to recognize openly gay military service later this year.Unbelievably, the Congressional neanderthals seem to think DOMA makes it illegal for gay servicemembers to marry.
In a one-sentence memo obtained by The Associated Press, Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, chief of Navy chaplains, said his earlier decision has been "suspended until further notice pending additional legal and policy review and interdepartmental coordination."
The Navy said its lawyers wanted to do a more thorough review of the legal decision that allowed Navy chaplains to receive training to perform civil unions on military bases, but only in states where same-sex unions are legal.
Kudos, however, to the forward thinkers in the USN who tried to enter the modern age. Eventually, it will happen.