Michele Bachmann, Enemy of Religious Freedom

Rob Tisinai

November 4th, 2011

Dear Representative Bachmann,

Why do you oppose religious freedom? And why are you such an enemy of the soldiers who guard our liberty?

I’m referring to your signature on Rep. Todd Akin’s letter to Senate leaders, which calls for rolling back the new policy allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex weddings in states where it’s legal.  The policy’s pretty simple:

A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law. Further, a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs. Finally, a military chaplain’s participation in a private ceremony does not constitute an endorsement of the ceremony by DoD.

(I emphasized a few key phrases for you.)

Some chaplains have worried the military would compromise their religious freedom by forcing them to conduct same-sex weddings. This policy prevents that. In fact, this policy maximizes religious freedom by leaving the decision entirely up to each chaplain’s conscience. Yet you oppose this freedom! You’re eager to let the government dictate religious policy. How and when did you become such a foe of religious liberty?

According to the letter you signed, this policy violates DOMA.  That’s nonsense, of course. DOMA has two main provisions:

  • States that ban same-sex marriage will not be forced to recognize such marriages from states that allow them.
  • The federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages as marriages.

Nothing in the policy violates either principle. Your letter tries to assert otherwise:

The use of federal property or federal employees to perform anything but opposite-sex ceremonies is a clear contravention of the law.

Do you expect us to believe that? DOMA certainly doesn’t say it. And what a violation of liberty it would be! Consider a federal employee, say a guard for the Border Patrol — or a scientist for the National Institutes of Health, or a geologist with the Department of the Interior — who is also an ordained minister. Are you truly claiming  DOMA prevents these good people from marrying same-sex couples in a private ceremony simply because they happen to be federal employees?

If not, then retract the claim. And if so — again, when did you become such a foe of religious liberty, such an advocate of government control over religion?

The real travesty, though, is your contemptuous treatment of our troops. We ask such sacrifice from them, and you are pointlessly trying to make their lives harder. Hampering their legal right to marry in states that allow it. Restricting their choice of who will preside over the most important ceremony of their lives.

And you’re not just harming gay and lesbian troops.  As your letter acknowledges: “the National Defense Authorization Act is well underway and needed funds for our troops should be expedited without delay.” Yet here you are, trying to delay those funds, because you’ve made restricting the religious freedom of chaplains a higher priority than protecting American soldiers.

Really, Ms. Bachmann, have you no shame?

Robert Tisinai

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2011



November 4th, 2011

To answer your final question, “No.” And negligible integrity, also.

Ben In Oakland

November 4th, 2011

at long last, has she no shame?

Christopher Eberz

November 4th, 2011

Aw dang, turns out that the actual principe religious freedom really apply when it doesn’t serve an anti-LGBT motive. This is my shocked face.

A reader

November 4th, 2011

Maybe one of her issues is that the policy refers to the minister as “a military chaplain” rather than as “a person in his private life”, and likewise in regard to “federal” employees (and “gay” troops). Perhaps something along the lines of “a person who happens to be employed by the federal government but is acting in his private capacity rather than as a military or federal representative” might make her just a little happier for the few seconds it would take to read the extra words. Or maybe not.


November 4th, 2011

Who is Michelle Bachmann? Her presidential bid is over. Her 15 minutes of fame is over. The same with Santorum.

Ray Harwick

November 4th, 2011

I wish I felt comfortable enough to open up my Facebook page to all the places I haunt so people could see the reaction I get from my “friends” when I share these articles.



Not a single blip of compassion.

Not a iota of anger.

Not even a smidgeon of shock or disgust.

Help me out here. Are my friends and family too fearful of losing their jobs, or their friends to assert themselves?

I started Happy Hour an hour early today, probably so I could ask this question.


November 4th, 2011

It’s amazing how salient this contradiction is, and amazing still how effortlessly it can be ignored when certain social norms prevail.

Lindoro Almaviva

November 4th, 2011

I am so done with this woman. If I run into her the day of final judgement k will file a complaint because it was too soon


November 5th, 2011

A wedding is not a marriage. People can have any kind of ceremony they want. Whether the government recognized it legally is another matter entirely.

But it seems some commanders have already misinterpreted the policy and think that just because a state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, having a ceremony isn’t allowed either:

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