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Gay Married Army Couple Barred from Attending Military Marriage Retreat

A gay married Army couple has been barred from attending a military marriage enrichment program at Fort Irwin, California, the Military Times reports:

FortirwinShakera Leigh Halford said her wife, a soldier at the post, approached a chaplain at Fort Irwin about participating in a “Strong Bonds” retreat at the base but was told the couple is “ineligible” because of their sexual orientation.

“I’m very sad and disappointed,” Halford said in a statement. “To know there are valuable resources available to soldiers and their families to help us through the challenges of military life, and then be told that we aren’t eligible because of our sexual orientation ... it hurts. It really hurts. We’re at a pretty secluded base and there aren’t many other resources out there for us, so what are we supposed to do?”

The retreat is one of the many services run by the Army’s Chaplain Corps. The Southern Baptist Convention, which provides the largest share of active-duty military chaplains, has barred members from taking part in weddings, counseling sessions and couples retreats for same-sex couples. Similar restrictions apply to Roman Catholic chaplains.

The military must somehow resolve the conflict between the chaplains who refuse to serve gay and lesbian couples and Defense Department policy or these cases will continue to crop up.

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  1. very sad. our brave soldiers put their lives on the line for all of us. its time that various faiths take a good look at themselves about how they systematically exclude, discriminate, and isolate. are they ever going to get it?

    Posted by: m | Nov 22, 2013 12:22:22 PM

  2. @M - The Armed Forces should de-certify any chaplain unwilling to serve ALL military personnel, whether that unwillingness is personal or denominational. The military would not permit discrimination of services based on religion, race or gender: it should not be allowed to permit discrimination of services based on orientation.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Nov 22, 2013 12:55:59 PM

  3. Here, here. I recall religious clergy having issue with inter-faith or inter-race marriages and refusing to assist folks in those sorts of unions.

    Heck, even something as socially liberal as ALEPH (the governing body over the Renewal section of Jewish synagogues) refused to train Rabbis in interfaith relationships.

    Bigotry is everywhere.

    Posted by: YSOSERIOUS | Nov 22, 2013 1:28:11 PM

  4. The military needs fire about half of its chaplains and replace them with secular or humanist social workers and counselors.

    The huge, huge issue here is that ostensibly secular programs like suicide prevention and in this case family support are run through the chaplaincy. For no reason whatsoever. These should be entirely secular programs.

    As it is, even for straight couples, depending on the chaplain they often receive religious ideas and gender stereotypes about how churches think marriages should work.

    Posted by: Steve | Nov 22, 2013 1:47:17 PM

  5. Our military, particularly the USAF, is infested with evangelicals and fundamentalists. They openly preach sedition against our government. It is not surprising that they would not permit a same-sex couple to attend a "marriage retreat". It would not surprise me if the radical evangelicals might attempt a coup d'etat. They are dangerous.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Nov 22, 2013 1:48:40 PM

  6. So if a gay soldier is dying on the battlefield, does the chaplain avert his eyes and keep on walking? Just wondering...

    Posted by: Dan | Nov 22, 2013 2:05:32 PM

  7. The military needs to remove these "chaplain corps" entirely and replace them with qualified individuals who can and will accommodate all soldiers of every color and sexual orientation. Until that is done this problem will not cease.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Nov 22, 2013 2:12:34 PM

  8. I know how the military, and the U.S. government can honor and respect the gay chaplains theological position on homosexuality, while remaining true to the evolving militasry position on gay soldiers and their families? They can invite any religion participating in the Chaplains corp who is not familiar with a post DADT era to leave the military, and don't let the door hit them on the butt on their way out. All other religions who can both minister and meet the spiritual needs of ALL the soldiers and their families without feeling that they are compromising their faith would, naturally, be welcome to stay.

    It is long past due for the chaplains corp to either be completely disbanded, or come under the full authroity of the Pentagon and its changing position on gays serving in the military . . . and it is especially time for the military to put a stop to a centuries long very aggressive prosletyzing of its personnel.

    The whole "Alleged" reason the colonists fled England, and opposed King Richard kicking of the Revolution against British rule of the new colonies was they wanted to shake the shackles of the tyrany of kings and PRIESTS . . . of religion, only to very-very quickly reestablish that sme rule of tyrany on these very shores which exists to this very day.

    It is time to stop talking out of our butts, and go beyond ratifying the U.S. Constitution, and ACTUALLY make the constitution an integral part of our government and culture.

    Sadly, all we have is a highyl stylized, and rather eloquent, and antiquated piece of paper that has laid out some utopian ideals, ideals that seem far more realized in other countries that have never drafted anything like the phony-bologna constitution, but have done more to actually implement the principles of treationg all its citizens with respect and equality.

    We have elected ourselves the hall monitor of democracy yet numerous countries, the macho countries to the south, have led the way to true democracy in legalizing gay marriage while the so-called great United States with its "Liberty and Justice for All" is legalzing gay marriage one state at a time.


    As pathetic as the fact that Canada enaged the enemies of the world in both World wars two to three years before the Unitsed States.

    The only thing that seems to motivate our government into action is oil, and stealing from others what is not ours.

    Saddam Hussein was "Allegedly" removed from power, tried, and executed by the government for crimes he commited agianst his people, crimes he commites decades ago, but which only seemd to stir us to action when he kicked American oil companies out of the Persian Gulf.

    If the effects of a cruel dictatorship upon a country was so greatly the righteous domain of our self-righteous, and moralistic government, and the pompous England as well, then why has North Korea's leaders been permitted to practice its decades long cruelty and tyrany upon its citizens?

    Well to put it simply, North Korea is not swimming in oil. I assure you if North Korea were as rich in oil as Iraq or Kuwait, the deceased Kim Jon il would have been deposed long ago, hung by the neck till he died, and an interim government implimented.

    But North Korea does not have oil, so its new leader Kim Jung-un is permitted to pick up where his lunatic and depraved father left off, and the United States sits idly by and does nothing . . . just as they did nothing about the atrocities of WW II UNTIL the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

    It would appear that as a people and a government we are not remotely as altruistic as we pretend.

    Posted by: Ricco | Nov 22, 2013 2:54:29 PM

  9. Why is the evil of religion officially involved in our Constitutionally-mandated secular military? They definitely should all be replaced with qualified, non-superstition-based, sane and rational counselors and therapists. Bigotry against our troops is not to be tolerated.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Nov 22, 2013 3:07:58 PM

  10. Easy solution: the chaplains can serve all soldiers equally or they can resign their commissions. Full stop. Do your job or get out.

    Posted by: FakeName | Nov 22, 2013 4:10:00 PM

  11. If you've taken the King's shilling, you are subject to his rules.

    Posted by: Rich | Nov 22, 2013 4:38:10 PM

  12. Marriage retreat programs are run by Christian organizations and are religious in nature. They not only help couples with their relationship to each other, but also with their relationship with God. Same-sex couples may believe they have some kind of relationship with God (or a god), but not as far as the preachers in the vast majority of mainstream Christian faiths.

    I realize the gay lobby is trying to purge the military of its Christian chaplains. This is an example of it.

    Posted by: SteveAR | Nov 22, 2013 5:59:04 PM

  13. Nope. They are supposed to help reduce stress in relationships. Or help them reconnect after a separation. Nothing else. Having religious retreats with tax-payer money is unconstitutional.

    Posted by: Steve | Nov 22, 2013 6:07:38 PM

  14. This exclusion would appear to be plainly illegal under California and US law.

    Posted by: Randy | Nov 22, 2013 6:13:32 PM

  15. @Steve: Yes.

    @Stevear: Your impressions of the "gay lobby" are based on? Gay couples like any couples in the military want to have strong family relationships. Some of those gay couples, like some of the straight couples, may be religious; some may not be. It's in the military's best interest to foster strong families--strong relationships with god, optional.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 22, 2013 7:00:48 PM

  16. Welcome to The USA..
    All talk no action
    America claims to be a great nation but it is so.far behind on so many issues it will never be able to catch up..
    Canada has had full gay rights and marriage in the army and otherwise for over 10 years..
    Somehow that country has managed not to fall apart in fact their economy is in better shape..begs so many questions..
    Maybe the US should quit claiming to know so much and lower the ego and ask for some guidance

    Posted by: Grant | Nov 22, 2013 7:08:33 PM

  17. I don't understand what this soldier expects to accomplish for her marriage by listening to some cross-carrying dildo tell stories about his imaginary friends that live on clouds.

    Why not try working your relationship crap out like adults, instead? Just a thought.

    Posted by: FFS | Nov 23, 2013 2:29:47 AM

  18. Do OUR tax dollars pay for this??

    Posted by: billmiller | Nov 23, 2013 7:49:37 AM


    Posted by: Nelson | Nov 23, 2013 9:53:26 AM

  20. @ERNIE: "Your impressions of the "gay lobby" are based on?"

    They are based on posts like this. They are also based on the actions of the gay lobby when Prop. 8 was voted on, and in every court case to create the "right" of same-sex "marriage" out of nothing.

    "Gay couples like any couples in the military want to have strong family relationships."

    That isn't the issue.

    "Some of those gay couples, like some of the straight couples, may be religious;..."

    If they are, it isn't based on anything in the Bible, either in the Old or New Testaments. As I had mentioned earlier, marriage retreats are run by religion-based organizations to strengthen a couple's personal relationship with each other and with God. Since homosexuality is an affront to God, as He has written, just as adultery and covetousness are, how can a same-sex couple who believe themselves to be "married" reconcile their actions with God's Word? If same-sex couples want to strengthen their personal relationship to make it stronger, which as far as I'm concerned is fine, they can do so without usurping events run by a religion-based organization.

    "It's in the military's best interest to foster strong families--strong relationships with god, optional."

    As the people in this country have slowly turned away from God, familial bonds between married couples (and I do mean when a man and woman are married to each other, as this is the only valid form of marriage, in my opinion) have weakened as well. The military's role to strengthen a couple in a same-sex "marriage" does nothing, nothing, to alleviate that.

    Posted by: SteveAR | Nov 23, 2013 10:44:32 AM

  21. Sorry anti-gay @Stevear, but your personal religious beliefs are irrelevant to everyone but you. The U.S. military is not a religion-based organization, and married same-sex military couples who are legally married are as married as you are and as I am, whether or not you happen to think it's valid. We don't live in a theocracy with a military run by your brand of God.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 23, 2013 11:01:18 AM

  22. Stevear, marital bonds have weakened in the military due to repeated overseas tours -- thank you, Dubya.

    The couples' retreats are MILITARY benefits, paid for by tax dollars. If a chaplain won't participate because there's a gay couple going, then the chaplain doesn't get to participate.

    Posted by: BobN | Nov 23, 2013 11:21:23 AM

  23. @Ernie: "Sorry anti-gay @Stevear, but your personal religious beliefs are irrelevant to everyone but you."

    Actually, they are very relevant to every military chaplain and everyone in the military who holds religious beliefs, including the vast majority in the military who are Christians. The only people who want Americans to believe religious beliefs are irrelevant are anti-religion, especially anti-Christian, bigots. The Constitution says otherwise.

    "The U.S. military is not a religion-based organization,..."

    True, but marriage retreats have always been run by religious organizations. By their very foundation, they would exclude those same-sex couples who believe themselves "married" because of the nature of these types of retreats.

    "...and married same-sex military couples who are legally married are as married as you are and as I am, whether or not you happen to think it's valid."

    Considering the question of whether or not the military, the government, has the power to legally deny a preacher's right to accept a same-sex "marriage" and all that entails, including restricting same-sex couples from going on a marriage retreat, hasn't been answered yet, I don't think what you say has any basis in fact at this time.

    "We don't live in a theocracy with a military run by your brand of God."

    It's not really my brand of God, it's pretty much everybody's brand of God, except for those "religious" nuts who have created their own "god" that would accept same-sex "marriage", and radical atheists.

    @BobN: "The couples' retreats are MILITARY benefits, paid for by tax dollars."

    See, here's the problem with that ridiculous argument. Those in the military who would accept same-sex "marriage" can set up their own retreats, paid for by tax dollars. But instead of doing that, these same-sex "marriage" activists (that is what they are) want to usurp an event from those who aren't accepting of same-sex "marriage".

    I haven't said it here, but I've said it other places. At some point, the gay lobby will demand mainstream churches perform same-sex "marriage" ceremonies, and if denied, will sue those churches for discrimination. It may not go anywhere in the near term, but eventually they will find activist judges who will illegally ignore the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. This is what the gay lobby is doing in this case.

    Posted by: SteveAR | Nov 23, 2013 2:22:39 PM

  24. It's nice to see that all of those trips to Russia don't get in the way of your trolling Towelroad, Brian Brown.

    Still wrestling with that little anal leakage problem?

    Posted by: FFS | Nov 23, 2013 9:41:20 PM

  25. @Stevear: It's not the military's business, or yours, to select which legal marriages are legal to them. Legal marriages are legal marriages. That's just reality.

    Churches, mainstream and otherwise, have always been free to sanction only those marriages, gay or straight, they wish to sanction. No one is challenging that. The military is not a church.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 24, 2013 5:42:32 AM

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