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Conservatives attack Navy policy, get it reversed

Timothy Kincaid

May 11th, 2011

A memo was made public on Monday that stated that same-sex marriages could be be conducted on Navy bases in states that allow such marriages and that chaplains who so wished could participate.

Predictably, social conservatives reacted with outrage.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (identified as a hate group by the SPLC), tweeted

Hearing Navy chaplains are now being trained to perform same sex weddings following [Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)] changes. Major religious liberty implications.

And the politicians got all charged up as well (Christianity Today)

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and 62 other Members of Congress also object to the new policy. They sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy accusing the Navy of violating federal law.

“We find it difficult to understand how the military is somehow exempt from abiding by federal law. Not only does this document imply recognition and support of same-sex marriage in opposition to DOMA, it also implies that the Navy will now perform these marriages so long as they do not violate state statutes,” Akin wrote.

And so the Navy has today reversed the policy. But what is being carefully avoided by conservatives is how this came about and who is really impacted.

The policy memo was written by Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd and was written to chaplains to answer questions that arose when those Navy chaplains were undergoing training as to what chaplains were allowed to do.

This reversal will have but minimal effect on gay couples. No, we will not be allowed to marry on base, but we can find another venue quite close by. The wedding will go on.

Who this really effects the most are military chaplains. This reversal tells them that they do not have the freedom to officiate at certain weddings. They cannot rely on the teachings of their own denomination or the guidance of their faith; instead politicians will dictate what are acceptable standards for sacraments.

So listen up, all you Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ, American Baptists, Universalists, Reformed Jews, or any other religious denomination who either does support same-sex marriage or is deciding whether to do so: it’s time you wake up to the truth. This is an attack on you.

Tony Perkins and the rest who yell the loudest about religious liberties don’t want religious liberty at all. Or, at least, not for you. They want to dictate to you what is acceptable religious policy in this country. It’s time you get in this fight and realize that you are fighting as much for your own freedom as you are for ours.



May 11th, 2011 | LINK

You left out the MOST gay supportive mainline church of them all from your list: The United Church of Christ, which is the ONLY Christian church listed that has a nation-wide policy of support for civil and spiritual marriage equality.

Most, but not all, Congregational Churches are UCC; but most UCC’s are not Congregational Churches (though they are all “congregational” in polity).

May 11th, 2011 | LINK

Since when does the Navy listen to hate group trash-talkers? Why wasn’t there a memo to Tony Perkins and Congressman Akin et al, saying “We are not in the habit of consulting with, or accepting direction in the development of Navy policy from, civilians with a clear political motivation that has nothing to do with military readiness or the internal operations of the Navy…when we want your opinion, we’ll bitch slap it out of you.”

Where’s Admiral Mullen in all of this?

May 11th, 2011 | LINK

Tim, You should send this to the Huff Post for submission.

May 11th, 2011 | LINK

UCC minister here. Re: Bold paragraphs. We know. We know this ia an attack on us. We know the lack of marriage equality is a government-imposed limit on our “free exercise thereof” first amendment rights. We make that point in the debate. Sometimes it is persuasive. The Iowa Supreme Court made this point in its ruling on marriage equality.

What none of us have done is file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of laws limited marriage to opposite-gender couples on these grounds, that they limit the free exercise of religious groups that support marriage equality. Hmmmmmm. Interesting civil rights question.

May 11th, 2011 | LINK

Tim, do you have a link to the full memo from Adm. Tidd? I’d like to read it so I can get a sense of how badly the FRC twisted it.

Richard Rush
May 12th, 2011 | LINK

It’s time you [gay-friendly churches] get in this fight and realize that you are fighting as much for your own freedom as you are for ours.

Getting “in this fight” requires motivation, and then money to finance a fight. The fundamentalist churches, motivated by mouth-foaming levels of fear and loathing, generate massive donations to finance their side of the fight, while the gay-friendly churches only seem motivated to the extent of changing internal church policies to more closely mirror secular social attitude changes toward gays.

While the fundamentalist churches have been leading the way on the anti-gay side, the gay-friendly churches have been merely followers on the other side.

Perhaps the gay-friendly churches would be more motivated to defend their own religious freedom if the issue didn’t involve gays. A dirty little secret in the mainline denominations is that they each seem to have a fundamentalist faction within them. I know the Episcopalians do, and the Presbyterians (USA) have an organized group named The Presbyterian Lay Committee. While the majority of members/leadership try to keep the fundies hidden away in the attic, they don’t want to lose them.

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