DADT: House Defense Bill, Colonels Punished, Lawsuit and More

Included below:

  • US House passes 2012 NDAA with DADT proviso
  • Quantico Marines conduct training, ‘can’t harass or make fun’
  • Army Colonels punished for skit ‘mocking homosexuals’
  • ADF may sue if Chaplains are not given protections
  • A rebuttal to the ADF by a former Chaplain — who calls conservative Christians ‘bigots.’

The US House passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on a vote of 322-96.  Included in it was a provision on the fate of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  DADT cannot be repealed as policy until:

The Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force each submit to the congressional defense committees the officer’s written certification that repeal of section 654 of title 10, United States Code, will not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, and morale of combat arms units and personnel of the Armed Force under the officer’s jurisdiction engaged in combat, deployed to a combat theater, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater.

This adds the Service Chiefs to the prior list of leaders that have to “certify” the repeal of DADT to Congress.

The bill also “reaffirms” the DOMA, defining marriage within military policy and restricting the definition of “spouse” to a member of the opposite gender.  (Amendments that would have expanded abortion coverage and eliminated restrictions on women in combat apparently failed.)

The Senate has yet to begin work on its own version of the bill, which will then be reconciled in committee with the House version, prior to a final vote and Presidential signature.

The White House issued an executive memo objecting to many provisions in the bill.  The memo “strongly objects” to the House bill’s new requirements that the Joint Chiefs certify the military’s readiness.  Notably, if there was any doubt as to the future steps in DADT repeal:

The Administration strongly objects to sections [defining marriage], believes that section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is discriminatory, and supports DOMA’s repeal.

US Marines at Quantico recently underwent training on the repeal of the policy most commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  The questions discussed were largely the same as at other times, with an interesting observation:

“Can you harass or make fun of other service members,” asked Lt. Col. Lew Sigmon.

One of the Marines replied,”No sir!”

Sigmon then said, “So nothing has changed.”

Apparently the author was never in the company of fighter pilots, infantrymen, tankers, SEALs, maintainers, security forces, airborne rangers, and every other military community where members of the military routinely “harass or make fun of” each other.  Unlike the stoic Marines answering the question offered, other members of the military might be surprised to learn they can’t give each other grief over a wide variety of topics.

The Army Times reports three US Army Colonels in Korea were punished for performing a skit in which they portrayed openly gay Elton John, Boy George, and George Michael as Soldiers.  Apparently, their use of “effeminate gestures” was offensive — and the potential for offense was the primary cause for punishment:

“It was obvious…what they had done was inappropriate because there was every chance that someone could have been offended by this, in particular, potentially gay soldiers,” [Lt Gen John D. Johnson] said.

The officers were not accused of violating regulations.

The Alliance Defense Fund has said it may sue “all the way to the US Supreme Court” if Pentagon policies do not align with federal law:

Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said his conservative legal organization would sue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to ensure that federal law — instead of the Pentagon personnel policy — represents the group’s position.

The group and its allies continue to point out the apparent lack of opposition to DADT repeal is a function of military restrictions on speech, not an absence of the opposition itself.  As a result,

Bishop Neal…said there are many chaplains who oppose the change to the military ban on homosexuality, but who will not get the chance to speak up because they are still in the service… Though military chaplains can’t speak up while serving, the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal group, will sue on their behalf if the Senate does not pass the House-approved amendments, according to ADF Senior Counsel Austin Nimocks…

Homosexual advocacy websites have picked up on a rebuttal to the ADF statement by retired US Navy Chaplain (CAPT) John F. Gundlach, a member of a self-designated group of Chaplains working for repeal, calling themselves the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy.  (Gundlach is apparently also an Ecclesiastical Endorser of military Chaplains for the United Church of Christ, sometimes described as a “progressive” Protestant denomination.)  The retired Chaplain posits that liberal and conservative religious freedoms are in conflict:

Are ADF and the religious groups they represent as willing to defend the same rights and protections for others they claim for themselves?  Are they as willing to acknowledge the right of chaplains from gay-friendly denominations to perform gay weddings in military chapels?

Gundlach does not explain from what source he derives a religious right to perform “homosexual weddings,” nor does he assert his denomination is morally or religiously obligated to support specific sexuality.  By contrast, the ADF represents groups who do hold to moral and religious tenets on those subjects.  Gundlach’s attempt to coattail their religious standing fails.

In perhaps the most shocking statement from the retired Navy Chaplain — whose role in the military was to protect religious freedom for all service members — is his explicit statement that Christians with traditional religious beliefs are bigots:

So where is the threat to religious freedom? And where could their right to free speech be limited? It will no longer be acceptable to speak about fellow gay and lesbian service members in demeaning ways in the workplace and other public settings. The fact that this has ever been acceptable by anyone anywhere, but especially by chaplains, is regrettable.

And chaplains from the religious groups who are now demanding protection from discrimination have been some of the worst offenders. They, and others who agree with them, may continue to think and believe what they want, but outside of those areas where their religious speech is protected, they may now have to keep their bigotry to themselves.

Perhaps the Army Colonels from Korea could help the US military define what Gundlach means by “demeaning,” if that is to be the standard, but the last sentence is the most interesting.

Pop Quiz:  Who has defined “areas where…religious speech is protected” within the military?  While an instinctive response might be “the military chapel,” the truth is no one has restricted the location of religious speech in the military to any location.  The belief that the military has — or may yet create — such restrictions on religious speech is precisely one of the reasons the ADF is calling for conscience protections.

In his attempt to belittle those with whom he disagrees, Gundlach instead proved their point.

President Obama has declared June to be “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.”

The story of America’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors…

Last December, I was proud to sign the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. With this repeal, gay and lesbian Americans will be able to serve openly in our Armed Forces for the first time in our Nation’s history. Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized.

With reference to the ADF and


  • “The Army Times reports three US Army Colonels in Korea were punished…”

    The Perpetually Aggravated/Special Class is starting early. They will never stop, this is why acceptance of homosexuality is the exception in Human history rather than the rule. The West has every single characteristic of a dying Civilization, the writing is on the wall.

    BTW…Elton John once said that religion should be forbidden. I wonder when will the military militant-atheists (another perpetually aggravated class) and the militant-homosexuals join forces?

  • JD – I think it is your argument re: the UCC that fails.

    1) You say, “Gundlach does not explain from what source he derives a religious right to perform “homosexual weddings,” nor does he assert his denomination is morally or religiously obligated to support such a lifestyle choice. Check for an official statement of the church. The UCC officially and explicitly endorses same sex marriage.

    2) For this discussion, Gundlach’s status as an endorser is much more significant than his status as a retired chaplain. Chaplains are expected to exercise their ministry in accordance with the direction of their endorsers. Endorsers do not have to explain or justify the theological or ecclesiastical guidance under which they direct their chaplains operate. If the UCC endorser says that a religious ceremony for same-sex couples is sacred rite that UCC chaplains may conduct, that should be the end of the matter as far as the government is concerned.

    3) Even if a chaplain wants to conduct a religious ceremony for same sex couples (or any other religious rite or teaching) without endorser approval or contrary to denominational policy, that is not a matter for the U.S. government. The government does not have a role in enforcing church law. The chaplain’s conduct of religious ministry is solely a matter between the chaplain and his or her endorser. The endorser’s remedy is to revoke the chaplain’s endorsement when the chaplain violates church policy.

    4) The rhetoric on both sides has frequently very heated. The excesses of the messenger don’t invalidate the logic of the message. Gudlach’s use of the word “bigot” – even if one thinks that is dehumanizing language – does not refute the basic argument: if chaplains are free to denounce same-sex unions and refuse to performs such ceremonies on religious grounds, they should be equally free to promote same-sex unions and conduct such ceremonies All chaplains should be free to conduct their religious ministry free of governmental interference.

    5) I have deliberately avoided using the word “marriage.” For federal purposes under DOMA, what a chaplain does for same-sex couples can never create a legal marriage. With relationship to the federal government, this is purely a religious and not a legal matter. If a state chooses to recognize what a member of the clergy does as creating a legal marriage, that’s the state’s business. Chaplains do not derive their legal ability to solemnize marriages from their status as military chaplains, but from their status as clergy – a status they held prior to and independent of their military service.

  • Mike —

    What constitutes a characteristic of a dying civilization? And please, don’t give us any mumbo jumbo about what happened to Sparta or the Romans some 450 years before the common era. Also, in you expert opinion (or crystal ball), can you give us an estimate on how long our civilization has until it’s really dead? I don’t know where you live, but where I live civilization is alive and well, not to mention thriving.

    Just last month we’ve had lots of high school graduations with many students going on to college or Military service, 22 babies were born to wonderful families, 18 weddings and 2 bar mitzvah’s were in the newspaper. We also got two new businesses (restaurants) opened and the fire department got a new tanker truck.

    All this and we are doomed because of gay or atheist people….I think not. We certainly are not perfect, but we are not as doomed an some people want us to believe.

  • watchtower,

    wow, you really know how to put a bunch of non-sequiters together.

    Old man,

    interesting point: you are arguing that chaplains could perform religious only ceremonies on federal grounds, deliberately not marrying them legally (and therefore avoiding DOMA restrictions). Would you be in support of chaplains (or clergy anywhere for that matter) doing religious, but not legal, marriages say in support of polygamy?

  • Dealer — thats because I’m in a perpetually aggravated class. Your Latin spelling is a little off by the way…just say’in.

  • @Old Man
    In re: your 1), you slightly missed the point. A religious order can certainly sponsor anything it wants; whether that particular thing is a tenet of their religion is another issue altogether. There is no mainstream religion in the world which has the sanctification of homosexuality as one of its tenets. (By contrast, all 3 Abrahamic religions specifically sanctify heterosexuality.)

    Thus, the point: the Chaplain’s argument (and your point 4) that the two religious freedoms are either in conflict or compatible are incorrect, because only one is religious freedom; the other is simply a cause.

    (Your point is made more complex by the fact the UCC does not dictate doctrine to its congregations; it merely “encourages” them.)

    With regard to 2), you form a cogent argument, but you find yourself on the other side of a similar case. If the UCC “requires” its Chaplains to perform such ceremonies, and the DOMA prevents it, they are free to withdraw their endorsement and begin administrative separation. They have to follow the law, just like those who have made similar arguments against the repeal of DADT.

    It’s really not as complicated as all that. All the Chaplains and troops have asked for is protections for their ability to speak their religious beliefs. Even homosexual advocates have said they have those rights (though they call such protections unnecessary).

    Gundlach not only disagrees, but by saying religious speech should be place-limited and by denigrating those who hold those beliefs, he proposes restrictions not even homosexual supporters have (publicly) called for.

    In the end, the possibility his statements could eventually become leadership guidance are the very reason such protections are considered necessary.

  • So, if you are not “mainstream”, a wonderfully undefined term by the way, then your religion is not a matter of religious freedom, but just a cause. That’s an interesting reading of the law. And as for the Abrahamic religions, I know that there are Christians and Jewish clergy who solemnise gay weddings, and in the UK they are arguing for the religious freedom to perform legal marriage ceremonies. But I guess they don’t count as. mainstream. enough to have rights.

  • Don,

    The point is there is the Bible, Torah and Koran all do not support homosexual activities. The concept of people who call themselves Christian, yet do obey the religious text founding the religion, makes it a cause.

    To counter the argument perhaps you should list which large faith groups sanctify homosexuality, rather than argue what ‘mainstream’ is.

  • No.. YOUR interpretation of the Bible, Koran, Torah et al do not support homosexuality. Other people’s interpretations differ. I don’t think that the right to religious freedom depends on either size or interpreting a particular text in the same way that you do.

  • Don,

    You’re arguing that it doesn’t matter what the text actually says, it only matters how I interpret it. In that case, maybe I should burn rubber after every stop sign and every red light: it’s not reckless if no one gets hurt right?

  • The law of the land says things about what you should do at stop signs. It days nothing about the “correct” way to interpret religious texts.

  • Don,

    The Bible CLEARLY says that homosexuality is wrong. In fact, the Bible clearly states that ANY sex outside of a marriage between one man and one woman is a sin and God hates it. People interpret it wrongly to garner support for their sin. It is that simple.

  • OK. I get the point. You think the Bible says that. The Quakers, for instance disagree. As do Episcopalians. That is the way of religion and as a non religious person, such discussions do not matter at all to me. More to the point though, they do not matter to the law, the US constitution or the federal government. Think about it, do you REALLY want the government deciding the correct, or even the mainstream, interpretations of religious texts?

  • @Donalbain

    do you REALLY want the government deciding…interpretations of religious texts?

    The issue is actually religious belief, generally predicated on a religious text.

    No one is arguing the government should interpret texts. The question is whether a behavior is protected under “religious freedom,” a conflict the government has decided multiple times over more than 100 years (polygamy, peyote, etc.). It very much requires the government to “interpret” the balance of freedom to exercise and permissible behavior. Sometimes behavior has won, sometimes “religious freedom.”

    In this specific case, whether a religious order claims it has “religious freedom” to homosexuality does not eliminate the ability of the government to regulate behavior, contrary to the implications of Chaplain Gundlach.

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