Center for Military Readiness head Elaine Donnelly appeared on In The Market with Janet Parshall yesterday to discuss the Todd Akin-sponsored bill that would ban same-sex marriages at military installations and permit discrimination against gay service members under the guise of a “conscience clause.” The marriage equality ban was removed from the final language but the “conscience” language remained. However, that was not enough for Donnelly, who said that same-sex marriage services at military installations jeopardizes religious freedom:
Donnelly: There’s also pressure to perform same-sex marriages, there’s already been a few that have happened on military bases. Well the new legislation unfortunately did not include that clause, which had been approved by the House, but the conference committee did pass some legislation there to protect the rights of chaplains with regard to religious liberty.
Parshall: How will that play out though because they didn’t go as so far as to say whether or not they would be excused from performing such ceremonies.
Donnelly: The administration is saying that no one will be forced to perform a ceremony with which they disagree for reasons of their sincerely held moral beliefs. But the pressure is on, it’s a chilling effect. If a chaplain says, ‘well I rather not perform that ceremony,’ is that chaplain going to be demoted in terms of promotion? The pressure will be on to comply or to be punished with various kinds of career penalties. You can’t always document these things but you know that over time the pressure would increase. This is why even though there’s been progress made in this particular bill, there is still a lot more that needs done.
According to Donnelly, the freedom of religion in the military can only be secured by ending the freedom of chaplains and houses of worship to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.
There are many chaplains who refuse to marry a couple if either partner is unbaptized or had a prior marriage that ended in divorce. Of course, the military would never prohibit unbaptized or divorced people from getting married for the mere reason that there are several chaplains who will not marry them. But that is effectively the argument conservative activists like Donnelly use when they insist that same-sex couples should be prohibited from marrying simply because some chaplains disapprove of it.