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Punishment for Antigay Views?

Punishment for Antigay Views?


Some military chaplains fear that once the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is lifted, service members who express their opposition to homosexuality will be subject to punishment, the Associated Press reports.

Leaders of 21 religious groups that provide chaplains to the military sent a letter Monday to the chiefs of chaplains for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, asking for Congress or the Pentagon to guarantee that troops will be able to discuss their objections to homosexuality without fear of repercussions.

"This is already an assault and a challenge on individual conscience, and some soldiers may think it's forcing them to abandon their religious beliefs or being marginalized for holding to those beliefs," Douglas E. Lee, a retired Army brigadier general and chaplain, told the AP.

As repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" is implemented, some training materials have stated that chaplains will remain free to preach that being gay is a sin, but Lee and his fellow signatories to the letter say that doesn't go far enough. "Service members should know that chaplains' ministry and their own rights of conscience remain protected everywhere military necessity has placed them," the letter states.

Those who supported repeal, expected to be fully implemented this year, say military leaders have made it clear that chaplains and soldiers with antigay religious beliefs have nothing to worry about. "This is yet another example of people with traditional and, quite frankly, antigay views demanding protection for something that doesn't need protection," said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, that endorsed open service by gay and lesbian troops.

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