Gay Marriage | Military

... Either Way, Chaplains Won't Be Forced To Marry Anybody

RogerWickerEver since September, when the Pentagon handed down guidelines allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, social conservatives have been haunted by the thought of some patriotic, anti-gay, Jesus-loving chaplain being forced to officiate a gay marriage against the dictates of his conscience. As the House and Senate prepare to reconcile their annual defense spending bills, an amendment by Sen. Roger Wicker (R., MS) may ease their minds. The Wicker Amendment states:

A military chaplain who, as a matter of conscience or moral principle, does not wish to perform a marriage may not be required to do so.

The Wicker Amendment was approved by voice vote last Wednesday. It's far milder than the paranoid madate already present in the House's spending bill. From the Washington Blade:

Language that was inserted by House Armed Services Committee Chair W. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) during committee markup outright prohibits military chaplains or civilian Pentagon employees from assisting with or officiating at a marriage ceremony.  The same provision also prohibits the use of military bases for these purposes.

But all the concern is probably unnecessary. As the Blade points out, the Obama administration's policy is already to "[give] chaplains the option of whether or not to take part in same-sex weddings."

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  1. what a relief for all those people for whom being anti-gay is the last thing they can hold onto in life.

    i'm always reminded of that line from ROOTS .....

    ... "the first thing they'd have us do is build them a church, so they can convince themselves that they're still Christians...."

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 3, 2011 1:50:52 PM

  2. I thought the military chaplain was to serve the religious needs of the all the soldiers. If they can't do their job they need to be replaced by someone who can. A soldier that is risking his/her life should not be subjected to someone that interferes with their religious beliefs.

    Posted by: Nigel | Dec 3, 2011 2:09:45 PM

  3. I agree with Nigel. If you can't serve as chaplain for all soldiers then you shouldn't be in that position. Can you imagine the brouhaha that would ensue if a chaplain refused to marry a multi-racial couple or how about if a couple from different religious faiths. And they wonder why their congregations are getting smaller and smaller.

    Posted by: Brad | Dec 3, 2011 2:19:56 PM

  4. @Brad: Military chaplains already can refuse to marry persons of different faiths, just like those who are divorced and want to marry someone else, etc. I have no problems with that, as well as their not being forced to marry persons of the same or even opposite sexes. This is basic First Amendment grounds IMO and the Wicker amendment is fine with me. The House version is definitely not. Prohibiting military chaplains from performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples also violates the First Amendment IMO. Remember in this case we are talking about religious marriages, not civil. In the case of civil marriages I have the same view on the matter as you do: refuse to marry anyone legally permitted to do so and you lose your job. QED.

    Posted by: JohnAGJ | Dec 3, 2011 2:28:44 PM

  5. And how is that moral? And what form of conscience is that graded against?

    Posted by: Al Eugene | Dec 3, 2011 3:06:02 PM

  6. There's a simple solution. Just find some gay chaplains. How hard can that be? (yes, i'm implying that many chaplains are gay)

    Posted by: jaime jones | Dec 3, 2011 6:24:27 PM

  7. This is an interesting question because Chaplains are government employees. We pay for them. It is not like a private church. As government employees do they deserve special rights? Why are they really any different than a county clerk who happens to be a minister as well?

    Posted by: Joey | Dec 3, 2011 7:13:15 PM

  8. That's okay with me - I wouldn't want someone anti-gay to perform my marriage anyway.

    Posted by: Fine by me | Dec 3, 2011 7:37:47 PM

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