WASHINGTON, May 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Democrat House leaders including Nancy Pelosi have opposed a measure to ensure military chaplains are not forced to perform same-sex “marriages,” arguing that it is based on a “manufactured crisis” and therefore unnecessary - a response strongly criticized by chaplain advocates.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday echoed sentiments issued by the Obama White House regarding the conscience language, part of a defense spending bill, saying that “there’s nothing that says that chaplains act against their faith.”
CNSNews.com, which had queried Pelosi about the language, then asked, “So why would you not support the provision that protects them?”
“Because it’s a fraud. It’s a - welcome to the world of manufactured crises. Here’s one,” Pelosi responded.
“So I think that this bill, it’s a very serious bill, the Defense Authorization bill. It’s about the protection of our country,” she said. “And to sprinkle it with almost scare tactics that somebody is proposing something that we have to prevent is really a frivolous exploitation of a very serious piece of legislation.”
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Section 536 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310) reinforces conscience protection for servicemen regarding sexuality, and states that officers may not order military chaplains to perform same-sex “marriages,” or punish them for declining to do so.
The following section, 537, reverses a Pentagon rule issued immediately after the armed forces’ “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was lifted last Fall, stating that marriage ceremonies for homosexual couples can be performed on military bases.
The amendments were approved on party-line votes in the House Armed Services committee May 10, the same day President Obama announced that he “personally” supported same-sex “marriage.”
The White House last Tuesday listed 536 and 537 specifically among several disagreeable portions of the bill, saying that the administration “strongly objects” to the two sections as “unnecessary and ill-advised policies that would inhibit” marriage for same-sex couples, a “potentially unconstitutional” infringement. The conscience rule was criticized specifically as “prohibit[ing] all personnel-related actions based on certain religious and moral beliefs.”
H.R. 4310 passed the Republican-led House on Friday.
Meanwhile, military chaplain advocates strongly questioned the idea that concern about chaplains’ conscience rights was “manufactured.”
“I’m a little bit perplexed, because if according to her, there’s no danger to ministers being forced to act against their conscience, what logical objection could there possibly be to putting that in a law?” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services told CNSNews.com.
Broglio suggested that “perhaps she’s not very familiar with how the military works.”
“While no one might be constrained to act against his or her conscience, you can also have a situation where someone in command makes it very, very difficult for that person, if the command wants him or her to act in a certain way,” he saidl. “And I think that the law, the provision in the draft, the provision in the bill, would protect the chaplain from that kind of situation.”
Dr. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, offered several reasons to believe the crisis is quite real.
“We already have some examples of a chaplain being pulled from an assignment simply because he forwarded an e-mail that was critical of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. He was told that ‘You need to be closely supervised.’ He was threatened that he would have to retire early,” he said.
“We have another chaplain who asked, “Can I speak about this issue? And the commander told him, ‘If you can’t get in line (with the military policy in support of homosexuality), resign your commission.’ So we have those kind of real life cases that the American public doesn’t realize is going on.”
Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who was court-martialed and removed from the U.S. Navy for praying “in Jesus’ name” at a public event in 2007, agreed.
“Pelosi and Obama now violate every soldier’s right to a sacred worship space devoted to Catholic or Evangelical worship, and threaten to punish chaplains who refuse to turn over the chapel keys,” said Klingenschmitt in a statement Friday.