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 celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.