The U.S. Senate has voted to protect military chaplains from being required to conduct same-sex “weddings.”
Senators passed the legislation Nov. 30 by voice vote as an amendment to the Defense authorization bill, according to the Army Times. The Senate version of the measure differs from that approved by the House of Representatives. In July, the House voted 236-184 for an amendment to its Defense authorization bill that would prohibit the performance of homosexual “marriage” ceremonies by military chaplains and at military installations.
The Department of Defense (DOD) announced in September that private, gay “weddings” could be conducted on or off military bases by military chaplains if such ceremonies are recognized within the state. In its guidance, the Pentagon also said a chaplain would not be forced to participate in a private ceremony if doing so would conflict with his or her “religion or personal beliefs.”
If enacted, a law would provide more long-lasting protection for chaplains’ conscience rights than a DOD regulation with similar language. Typically, new administrations can change a federal regulation more easily than a new Congress can reverse a law.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R.-Miss., the amendment’s sponsor, said it is needed to guarantee chaplains’ rights are protected. “This amendment will allow the chaplains of our Armed Forces to maintain the freedom of conscience necessary to serve both their Nation and their religion without conflict,” Wicker said in a written statement.
Chaplain endorsers agreed and commended Wicker. “Chaplains should be able to continue to serve our military personnel without fear of reprisal for their Biblically held views concerning sexuality and the definition of marriage,” said Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, in a written release.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press