Pentagon: No change for chaplains with gay ban repeal

January 31, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) The pending repeal of the U.S. military's ban on openly
gay members will not change policies related to chaplains, the Pentagon
stated Friday (Jan. 28).


"There will be no changes regarding service member exercise of
religious beliefs, nor are there any changes to policies concerning the
chaplain corps of the military departments and their duties," reads a
six-page memo about implementing the repeal the Don't Ask/Don't Tell
policy.


It notes that chaplains will continue to be required to "care for
all," and their First Amendment freedoms will remain unchanged.


"When chaplains are engaged in the performance of religious
services, they may not be required to engage in practices contrary to
their religious beliefs," it reads.


In November, the military issued a comprehensive review of the
planned repeal and concluded "special attention" should be given to the
chaplains corps because of sharp differences on the issue. But that
report also concluded existing rules protecting chaplains' First
Amendment rights were "adequate" for the ban's repeal.


Officials of some chaplains' organizations have opposed the repeal
and questioned whether chaplains who oppose homosexuality will be
protected.


The exact effective date of the repeal remains unclear, but
President Obama said in his State of the Union address it would occur
this year.