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Clergy Battle Both Sides of DADT

Clergy Battle Both Sides of DADT

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As 40 military chaplains have expressed their collective apprehension about lifting the ban on gays in the military, a group of religious leaders has also voiced support for gay and lesbian service members.

The Human Rights Campaign announced Wednesday the formation of a coalition of leaders from a range of faiths -- including Christians, Jews, and Sikhs -- who agree that the military must repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"As military chaplains, we routinely work with service members whose faith traditions and belief systems are different from ours. The idea that repeal of DADT will infringe on our religious liberty is insulting to all the serving chaplains who professionally minister to and with people of diverse beliefs every day," said Capt. John F. Gundlach, a retired U.S. Navy chaplain. "It is time to realize that bigotry -- not one's sexual orientation -- is incompatible with military service. It's time for gay Americans to be able to serve our country proudly and openly, with continued courage, honor, and commitment."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday 41 retired chaplains relayed their concern that lifting the ban would force them to "obey men" rather than "obey God." Their letter, addressed to President Barack Obama and Defense secretary Robert Gates, was circulated by the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defense Fund.

"By raising homosexual behavior to the same protected class as innate, innocuous characteristics like race and gender, the armed forces will cast the sincerely held religious beliefs of many chaplains and service members as rank bigotry comparable to racism," the letter reads. "If chaplains are limited in teaching and counseling on their beliefs, then the men and women in uniform who share their faith and rely on their instruction will necessarily face a reduction in the free exercise of their faith."

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