FORT BRAGG, North Carolina, August 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The military has dropped charges against a United States Army chaplain and his assistant for refusing to conduct a marriage retreat for a lesbian couple.
The women filed a discrimination complaint, which the military investigated.
The investigation led to a report charging Major Scott Squires and Sergeant Kacie Griffin with dereliction of duty.
While a chaplain at Fort Bragg, Squires reportedly told a soldier he was unable to conduct a marriage retreat that included her and her same-sex partner because of the requirements of his church.
Under the army's policies, every United States Army Special Operations Command commander is responsible for “promoting equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in an environment free from harassment or unlawful discrimination.”
“Every soldier is entitled to equality and fair treatment regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation,” said Loren Bymer, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Special Operations Command. “We expect our commanders to promote equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in an environment free from harassment or unlawful discrimination.”
A guilty verdict could have resulted in up to six months in a military prison.
But First Liberty Institute, a non-profit specializing in First Amendment and religious freedom cases, decided to intervene and was successful in getting the charges dropped.
“We are grateful that the army has rejected and abandoned these baseless charges,” said Mike Berry, deputy general counsel and director of military affairs at First Liberty. “The United States military is no place for anti-religious hostility against its own military chaplains. Chaplains like Scott Squires and his assistant Kacie Griffin do not have to give up their First Amendment rights in order to serve their fellow soldiers.”
The basis of the discrimination complaint was reportedly that Squires quickly rescheduled a marriage retreat the lesbian couple was planning to attend.
Squires’ lawyer argued the military chaplain had little choice but to take that course of action. His endorsing agency is the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, which prevents its chaplains from facilitating same-sex “marriages.”
The Department of Defense's own regulations require chaplains to adhere to their endorsers’ rules and religious tenets.
“I look forward to being able to focus on continuing my career serving my fellow soldiers,” said Squires. “I am eternally grateful to First Liberty for…fighting to restore my religious liberty.”