Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the House Armed Services Committee Authorization bill, which included three amendments designed to delay the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
With the Senate taking up the bill, Rep. Randy Forbes, along with Bishop Harry Jackson and a group of right-wing pastors, held a press conference to encourage the Senate to pass the pro-DADT amendments.
Attempting to seem semi-reasonable, Jackson began the conference by claiming that amendments intending to make the repeal of DADT more difficult and time-consuming weren’t about DADT itself, but instead about “clarity.”
That line of reasoning lasted all of 15 minutes. By the time Q&A rolled around, Jackson and the Religious Right figures that had joined him used all of the same tired arguments that have been used against DADT in the past. When asked if the repeal of DADT would hurt recruitment, Bishop John Neal claimed that he wasn’t sure, but what he was really worried about was the “close quarters” that soldiers have to share, and what would happen when there was “only one spigot” on the shower.
Multiple speakers claimed that “no one should be marginalized for their religious beliefs,” but they all seem to believe that marginalizing people for their sexual orientation is perfectly acceptable. One of the speakers, John Neil, went so far as to claim that the military discriminates all the time, by not allowing, for example, extraordinarily tall people to pilot cramped fighter jets. Because that’s exactly the same situation.
Despite their claims to be promoting the rights of chaplains, this group showed that their real goal was restricting the rights of the LGBT community, going so far as to assert that Martin Luther King Jr. would disapprove of same-sex marriage:
Jackson: There were members of his family who were for gay marriage, others were against. I know this: King basically spoke from two vantage points that he thought were very, very sacred within the American culture – one was the Bible and the other was the Constitution. And I think what we’re dealing with here is that from a biblical perspective, King no doubt would have been with us biblically. And I think, again, the lines of what is exactly the right of an American to do, I’ve got a hard time believing that “the pursuit of happiness” crosses into some of these areas. So I think that King would be with us, as a preacher first.
Question: Just to clarify: you’re saying Dr. King would be against gay marriage?
Jackson: Yes. Very specifically, yes. Because it’s against what is clearly written in Scripture. And if you listen to any of his messages, that clarion call to scriptural accountability even to the point when his own house was firebombed and folks came up in Montgomery armed and ready to go fight folks, he said “no, no, no, we will turn the other cheek.”
So there was not just a tacit biblical acceptance or kind of whitewashing, if I can use that phrase, certain kinds of behaviors and say this is Christian, this is not. I think there was an inherent commitment to those issues in our social culture.