This is way out of my usual area. But a can’t read any more non-sense about the alleged problems the U.S. military faces in implementing the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell. There’s nothing to implement. Just stop treating gay men and women as different and move on.
The latest writing to annoy me was this post by the normally sensible conservative Matt Lewis at Politics Daily. He posits an eventual clash between gay rights and the religious liberty of military chaplains. Now, if there is one problem that chaplains have figured out to deal with, it is how a chaplain can minister to a soldier, sailor, or airman whose religious beliefs are different. Given the religious diversity of the armed forces and the small number of chaplains, it happens all the time and while there have been some problems, particularly complaints in recent years about some evangelical Protestant chaplains proselytizing (for example), the system mostly works.
But, Lewis writes, “will Army chaplains be required to perform marriage for same-sex couples? Will chaplains be allowed to preach against homosexuality from the pulpit — or counsel against homosexual conduct? While these are sure to be questions the military must grapple with, one can also imagine this issue eventually making its way into the civilian world.”
The first question gives the game away, and the answer, had Lewis troubled to do a little research, in “no,” regardless of the status of same-sex marriage under federal law. This is not a new issue because many denominations have rules limiting who can be married, even if the partners are of different sexes. For example, nearly all Orthodox and Conservative rabbis and most Reform rabbis will not marry a couple unless both members are Jews. (Logic would dictate that the same rule applies to same-sex marriages, by the way.) And under current military rules, Jewish chaplains are free to maintain these requirements for service members. For example, a memorandum for chaplains at Fort Leavenworth states, unambiguously if ungrammatically, chaplains “maintains their ecclesiastical standards as to accepting or declining to officiate a requested wedding.”
The one serious issue that will arise after repeal of DADT regards the provision of benefits to the same-sex spouses of military personnel. But that is a question independent of DADT and will have to be resolved as art of a broader question about same-sex couples and benefits. Sooner or later, and most likely sooner, the courts are going to rule that, notwithstanding the Defense of Marriage Act, the constitution requires the federal government to recognize any marriage under state law–it’s a two-fer of full faith and credit and equal protection–and that will be that.