Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today in response to the release of the Pentagon’s report on repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the report:
I am pleased to see the Pentagon’s report give thoughtful consideration to the religious freedom concerns that have been raised in the conversation about repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ I am even more pleased by the conclusion at which the report arrived, a conclusion I have asserted from the start of this debate: Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will not have an impact, let alone a negative impact, on the religious and individual freedoms of the men and women in our armed forces or the chaplains who serve them.
Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in no way would hinder chaplains from voicing their personal moral convictions and theological doctrines. The chaplaincy should represent the diversity of faiths in the military, not simply one point of view. Furthermore, as a Baptist minister, I, like all clergy members, frequently counsel people whose beliefs on a number of subjects are not exactly in line with the religious or moral values that I embrace. Such a challenge in counseling comes with the territory of being a clergy member.
Our servicemen and women deserve chaplains who support and comfort them as they carry out their military duties, regardless of their individual lifestyles or particular religious beliefs. Sexual orientation is no more a hindrance to that mission today than was racial identity years ago. I am happy to see the Senate do its due diligence by holding a hearing to explore the report. I hope that now that the awaited report is complete, its members will move quickly on this legislation. Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a step forward in equality and justice for all Americans.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.