Navy chaplains & gay marriages

Chaplains in the navy have been told that they may perform gay marriages in navy chapels, if they are legal in the particular state and if the chaplain is willing to do so:

Anticipating the elimination of the military ban on homosexuality, the Office of the Chief of Navy Chaplains has decided that same-sex couples in the Navy will be able to get married in Navy chapels, and that Navy chaplains will be allowed to perform the ceremonies — if homosexual marriage is legal in the state where the unions are to be performed.

The advisory came in the form of an April 13 memo issued to all chaplains, in which the Chief of Navy Chaplains, Admiral Michael Tidd, said the Chaplain Corps was revising its Tier I training manuals, which had previously indicated that same-sex marriages are not authorized on federal property.

Instead, Tidd called for chaplains to comply with service-wide efforts underway to be more accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as the end of the military policy on homosexuality nears.

Citing “additional legal review” by Navy attorneys, the admiral said the Navy “has concluded that, generally speaking, base facility use is sexual orientation neutral.”

“If the base is located in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, then the base facilities may be used to celebrate the marriage,” the admiral’s directive states.

The admiral’s memo also gives chaplains permission to “marry” homosexual couples – but would not force them to perform ceremonies.

via Navy Authorizes Chaplains to Perform Same-Sex ‘Marriages’ in Naval Chapels | CNSnews.com.

I know some of you readers are military chaplains.  Do you feel you will be pressured to perform these marriages under the new military guidelines?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    Follow-up question for those who may be chaplains: If you are pressured to perform these services against conscience, will it be the end of active military chaplaincy? As to the LCMS, would it then switch to a WELS-like model?

    We talked about some of the implications of the UMCJ and differences between enlisted and officer oaths on a thread last week. If pressured by a superior, or by order, to perform such as ceremony, what recourse does a military chaplain have under their oaths that would allow them to refuse under conscience?

  • SKPeterson

    Follow-up question for those who may be chaplains: If you are pressured to perform these services against conscience, will it be the end of active military chaplaincy? As to the LCMS, would it then switch to a WELS-like model?

    We talked about some of the implications of the UMCJ and differences between enlisted and officer oaths on a thread last week. If pressured by a superior, or by order, to perform such as ceremony, what recourse does a military chaplain have under their oaths that would allow them to refuse under conscience?

  • Jonathan

    No one is going to be ordered to conduct such a ceremony, of course. Now, what effect it would have on his career is another matter.

  • Jonathan

    No one is going to be ordered to conduct such a ceremony, of course. Now, what effect it would have on his career is another matter.

  • Joe

    SKPeterson – I think this is just another reason for us to alter our current chaplaincy program. Our long-standing “partnership” with the ELCA re: chaplaincy is reason enough restructure the program but perhaps we need the hot button social issue of gay marriage to force us to do what should have been done decades ago.

  • Joe

    SKPeterson – I think this is just another reason for us to alter our current chaplaincy program. Our long-standing “partnership” with the ELCA re: chaplaincy is reason enough restructure the program but perhaps we need the hot button social issue of gay marriage to force us to do what should have been done decades ago.

  • Bill Cork

    No one will be pressured to do so. Regulations on the rights and responsibilities of chaplains are clear, and this has been reinforced in the training on DADT that all military personnel are receiving. Chaplains can’t be forced to do something that is contrary to the teachings and practices of their denomination. This new policy is just saying that those Unitarians in Massachusetts who want to use a Navy chapel can do so.

  • Bill Cork

    No one will be pressured to do so. Regulations on the rights and responsibilities of chaplains are clear, and this has been reinforced in the training on DADT that all military personnel are receiving. Chaplains can’t be forced to do something that is contrary to the teachings and practices of their denomination. This new policy is just saying that those Unitarians in Massachusetts who want to use a Navy chapel can do so.

  • Aaron Root

    I would like to share Bill’s optimism about the new policy, but fear that what we are assured is strictly optional will one day become as good as required.

  • Aaron Root

    I would like to share Bill’s optimism about the new policy, but fear that what we are assured is strictly optional will one day become as good as required.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Having heard of a lot of pressure on chaplains NOT to hold to other tenets of their faith from higher-ups from liberal denominations, I cannot fathom that somehow this new policy will be an exception. As Jonathan says, there will be plausible deniability, but it will cost good men their next promotion.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Having heard of a lot of pressure on chaplains NOT to hold to other tenets of their faith from higher-ups from liberal denominations, I cannot fathom that somehow this new policy will be an exception. As Jonathan says, there will be plausible deniability, but it will cost good men their next promotion.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I believe that eventually it will come down to the state pressuring the church to give in on this point, and the church will once again have to choose between being pleasing to God or being a friend of the world.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I believe that eventually it will come down to the state pressuring the church to give in on this point, and the church will once again have to choose between being pleasing to God or being a friend of the world.

  • Bill Cork

    I speak as a chaplain with 11 years in service. If anything, the more conservative churches are dominant in the chaplaincy. Many have complained about this. You hear of folks from time to time, like Klingenschmitt, who claims he was kicked out for praying in Jesus’ name, when in fact he was removed for violating a direct order and wearing his uniform at a political rally. The first amendment guarantee of freedom of religion is what makes the chaplaincy possible … and if it allows freedom for us, it’s going to allow freedom for folks who disagree with us.

  • Bill Cork

    I speak as a chaplain with 11 years in service. If anything, the more conservative churches are dominant in the chaplaincy. Many have complained about this. You hear of folks from time to time, like Klingenschmitt, who claims he was kicked out for praying in Jesus’ name, when in fact he was removed for violating a direct order and wearing his uniform at a political rally. The first amendment guarantee of freedom of religion is what makes the chaplaincy possible … and if it allows freedom for us, it’s going to allow freedom for folks who disagree with us.

  • DonS

    Bill @ 8: Thank you for your service. Of course, the fear of commenters on this blog, and elsewhere, is that this is only step 1 on what will be a long slippery slope, until chaplains holding to a true biblical viewpoint will no longer enjoy that guarantee of freedom. We recognize that this right has already been taken away from lay Christians operating in the business world, and that the present day power establishment is extremely hostile to the biblical worldview.

  • DonS

    Bill @ 8: Thank you for your service. Of course, the fear of commenters on this blog, and elsewhere, is that this is only step 1 on what will be a long slippery slope, until chaplains holding to a true biblical viewpoint will no longer enjoy that guarantee of freedom. We recognize that this right has already been taken away from lay Christians operating in the business world, and that the present day power establishment is extremely hostile to the biblical worldview.

  • http://nbfzman.blogspot.com nbfzman

    What about the fact that Federal Law (DOMA) does not recognize same-sex marriage? Is the Navy a federal or a state entity?

  • http://nbfzman.blogspot.com nbfzman

    What about the fact that Federal Law (DOMA) does not recognize same-sex marriage? Is the Navy a federal or a state entity?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, are military chaplains currently forced (or do they at least feel forced) to marry couples they would not marry in a civilian setting? Seems to me that looking at existing cases would provide the best insight.

    That is, do Catholic chaplains feel compelled to marry previously divorced people (yes, yes, I know there are extenuating circumstances for Catholics)? And most pastors would at least have serious reservations about marrying a Christian to a non-Christian — do miliary chaplains feel compelled to perform these marriages anyhow?

    DonS (@9), what are you talking about? “We recognize that this right [to religious freedom] has already been taken away from lay Christians operating in the business world”? As a lay Christian operating in the business world, this comes as news to me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, are military chaplains currently forced (or do they at least feel forced) to marry couples they would not marry in a civilian setting? Seems to me that looking at existing cases would provide the best insight.

    That is, do Catholic chaplains feel compelled to marry previously divorced people (yes, yes, I know there are extenuating circumstances for Catholics)? And most pastors would at least have serious reservations about marrying a Christian to a non-Christian — do miliary chaplains feel compelled to perform these marriages anyhow?

    DonS (@9), what are you talking about? “We recognize that this right [to religious freedom] has already been taken away from lay Christians operating in the business world”? As a lay Christian operating in the business world, this comes as news to me.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 11: What I mean, for example, is that a pharmacist in Illinois, despite his personal religious convictions, is required by law to dispense a prescription for the morning after pill. And a homeowner in California, despite her personal religious convictions, is prohibited from discriminating against an unmarried couple by refusing to rent her garage apartment to that couple.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 11: What I mean, for example, is that a pharmacist in Illinois, despite his personal religious convictions, is required by law to dispense a prescription for the morning after pill. And a homeowner in California, despite her personal religious convictions, is prohibited from discriminating against an unmarried couple by refusing to rent her garage apartment to that couple.

  • MikeD

    tODD @ 11:

    While DonS might be overstating it, here’s a link to something relevant. In summary:

    “On January 28, 2008, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission heard the case of Vanessa Willock v. Elane Photography.

    Willock, in the midst of planning her wedding to her girlfriend, sent the photography company an e-mail request to shoot the commitment ceremony. Elaine Huguenin, who owns the company with her husband, replied: “We do not photograph same-sex weddings. But thanks for checking out our site! Have a great day!”

    “In April, the state human rights commission found that Elane Photography was guilty of discrimination and must pay the Willock’s more than $6,600 attorneys’ fee bill. The photographers are appealing to state court. ”

    It’s only one example, and not the norm, but horrible nevertheless. I do not know the result of the appeal.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486340

  • MikeD

    tODD @ 11:

    While DonS might be overstating it, here’s a link to something relevant. In summary:

    “On January 28, 2008, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission heard the case of Vanessa Willock v. Elane Photography.

    Willock, in the midst of planning her wedding to her girlfriend, sent the photography company an e-mail request to shoot the commitment ceremony. Elaine Huguenin, who owns the company with her husband, replied: “We do not photograph same-sex weddings. But thanks for checking out our site! Have a great day!”

    “In April, the state human rights commission found that Elane Photography was guilty of discrimination and must pay the Willock’s more than $6,600 attorneys’ fee bill. The photographers are appealing to state court. ”

    It’s only one example, and not the norm, but horrible nevertheless. I do not know the result of the appeal.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486340

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/doma-violated-by-navy-brass-chaplains.html
    DOMA = Federal law-
    Military going against Federal law-
    Military – to protect and defend the Constitution-
    Federal law comes under that mandate-
    I’ll stick to true Oath Keepers and not PC oriented DoD
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/doma-violated-by-navy-brass-chaplains.html
    DOMA = Federal law-
    Military going against Federal law-
    Military – to protect and defend the Constitution-
    Federal law comes under that mandate-
    I’ll stick to true Oath Keepers and not PC oriented DoD
    Carol-CS

  • Gary

    What about running this train on the rails in the other direction? Suppose the rostered LC-MS chaplain performs same-sex weddings for military personnel with nary a qualm. Would his DP be obligated to put him under discipline?

  • Gary

    What about running this train on the rails in the other direction? Suppose the rostered LC-MS chaplain performs same-sex weddings for military personnel with nary a qualm. Would his DP be obligated to put him under discipline?

  • Mike Baker

    I’m just waiting for the openly homosexual chaplains from mainline protestantism. Kind of sad that military policy is the only thing that has been keeping them out.

  • Mike Baker

    I’m just waiting for the openly homosexual chaplains from mainline protestantism. Kind of sad that military policy is the only thing that has been keeping them out.

  • Jonathan

    Engine Room, all stop! Full astern! “All Stop- Aye, Aye!”

    10 May. “WASHINGTON – 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.

    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.”

  • Jonathan

    Engine Room, all stop! Full astern! “All Stop- Aye, Aye!”

    10 May. “WASHINGTON – 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.

    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.”

  • Bill Cork

    Here are some links on the Navy’s reversal: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2011/05/navy-chief-chaplain-reverses-recent.html

    I don’t think this is the end of it, of course. I think the UCC and ELCA and Unitarian chaplains that want to do gay marriages will argue that this exclusion is a violation of their religious liberty and equal protection. They will say every other religion gets to perform its ceremonies in the chapel–we demand equal access for ours. And how do you suppose the courts will respond to that argument?

  • Bill Cork

    Here are some links on the Navy’s reversal: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2011/05/navy-chief-chaplain-reverses-recent.html

    I don’t think this is the end of it, of course. I think the UCC and ELCA and Unitarian chaplains that want to do gay marriages will argue that this exclusion is a violation of their religious liberty and equal protection. They will say every other religion gets to perform its ceremonies in the chapel–we demand equal access for ours. And how do you suppose the courts will respond to that argument?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    and since when does the President of the US – bho- decide what is Constitutional – this time DOMA- and what is not!
    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/navy-brass-backs-off-of-gay-marriage.html
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    and since when does the President of the US – bho- decide what is Constitutional – this time DOMA- and what is not!
    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/navy-brass-backs-off-of-gay-marriage.html
    C-CS

  • Pingback: In Your Face! « YOU DECIDE

  • Pingback: In Your Face! « YOU DECIDE


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X