New Air Force Lead Lawyer on Religion, Homosexuality

Homosexual activists recently emphasized the fact the US Senate just confirmed a “gay attorney” as the new General Counsel of the US Air Force. Mr. Gordon Tanner has taken on the civilian role akin to the uniformed JAG of the Air Force.  Tanner also retired as a Reserve JAG; interestingly, he may have worked on courts-martial or discharges enforcing the ban on homosexuals even as he continued to serve.  Still, those activists missed the more newsworthy expression of Tanner’s view on religious expression and homosexuality in the military:

May a member of the armed forces who has a sincerely held belief in opposition to same-sex marriage be subject to adverse personnel action or similar other adverse action, if he or she shares those personal views on the subject in a personal capacity?

Tanner: No. A member of the armed forces who has a sincerely held belief in opposition to same-sex marriage should not be subject to adverse personnel action if he or she shares those personal views in a personal capacity, as long as the member’s expression, in his or her personal capacity, is not disruptive to good order and discipline, respects the dignity of those with whom he or she may disagree, and is not coercive in nature.

Some will assert the qualifier of “good order and discipline” could be a blanket waiver to let the military do virtually anything. (It would also be interesting to see if anyone will parse the answer, saying Tanner was referring only to beliefs about same-sex marriage, and not beliefs about homosexuality itself.)

“Good order and discipline” hasn’t generally been used that way, though. For example, a military officer — in his private capacity — expressing his religious belief that “Islam is a false religion” could conceivably be accused of being “disruptive to good order and discipline” in re his fellow Muslim troops, but that has never happened because, in theory, the military protects the religious liberty of its troops.

Sanctions on those who hold religious beliefs on the topic of homosexuality, however, have occurred. One commander told his Christian Airman “we’ve been ordered to not have an opinion about gays in the military” — and that he should not re-enlist because of his religious beliefs.  Another anonymous troop was threatened with a “reduction in rank and pay” for a Facebook post saying homosexuality is a sin.  And those are just a couple of examples that are public.

In fact, you can almost be guaranteed that if a military Christian posts something on the internet saying “homosexuality is a sin” Mikey Weinstein will forward it to their entire chain of command and demand the service Chief of Staff crucify the troop expressing “vile homophobia” and “blatant bigotry.” Right, Mikey?

But the Air Force’s new top civilian lawyer — its first “gay attorney” — says a member of the Armed Forces may not be punished for expression of sincerely held belief.

Where does that leave those who have?

Some history here. Also at