WASHINGTON, D.C., May 27, 2010— Alliance Defense Fund attorneys, working with the Family Research Council, sent letters to all 535 members of the U.S. Congress Wednesday, advising them regarding the legal and religious freedom implications associated with the proposed repeal of the military’s standing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The information provided to Congress included legal analysis by ADF of the religious freedom threat posed to both chaplains and service members.
ADF also provided Congress a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, signed by 41 retired military chaplains, advising key officials that a repeal will, among other things, “endanger religious liberty for chaplains and service members.” A news conference to discuss how overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will undermine religious liberty in the military will be held Thursday at 2:30 p.m. EDT at the House side of the Capitol Building, Room HC-8, in Washington, D.C., with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Rep. Jack Kingston, ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot*, and pastors from across the country.
“The First Amendment rights of troops who defend those rights for the rest of us should be non-negotiable–not an afterthought,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Daniel Blomberg. “The small group of activists who are pushing to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ are conveniently ignoring the dramatic legal impact of the legislation upon the religious liberties of thousands of chaplains and service members. The legislation that Congress is considering puts at risk fundamental, constitutionally protected liberties, treating those rights as limited ‘privileges’ that can be taken away at any time.”
Earlier this month, upon request of the Pentagon working group in charge of reviewing the repeal, ADF also sent legal analysis regarding appropriate religious liberty protections for chaplains and service members if Congress were to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
“First, passing a law that elevates homosexual behavior to a protected class sets the military’s policy at direct odds with the moral teachings and beliefs of a significant group of military chaplains and service members,” the ADF analysis states. “This conflict will likely have the effect of both pressuring service members and chaplains to alter their beliefs to accommodate military policy and marginalizing those whose religious beliefs will become equated with racism or sexism. Second, while religious exemptions are a standard feature of non-discrimination laws protecting homosexual behavior–so standard a feature, in fact, that their absence from the pending repeal legislation before the House and Senate is conspicuous–they are often only partially helpful in guarding religious liberty.”
“The nature of the proposed repeal is an alarming signal that religious liberty, free speech, and even national security have taken a back seat to the homosexual legal agenda,” Blomberg added.
In February, ADF attorneys sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary Gates advising them of the legal risks and dangers of the proposed repeal. Among other effects, such a repeal would place hundreds of chaplains to the armed forces in irreconcilable positions between military mandates and their religious freedoms.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.