If Congress repeals the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that effectively bars gays from serving openly in the armed forces, no one will be more affected than the military’s chaplains. The Pentagon’s report on the potential effects of repealing the policy notes that some chaplains “condemn in the strongest possible terms homosexuality as a sin and an abomination, and inform us that they would refuse to in any way support, comfort, or assist someone they knew to be homosexual.” Not all chaplains feel that way, of course, but clearly a policy change would have ramifications for the spiritual role chaplains play. Among those most opposed to lifting the policy are Catholic chaplains, ministering to service members who comprise about 20 percent of the armed forces, according to The Washington Post.
It’s hard to predict what will happen if the policy is changed. Most likely, some chaplains will welcome the change, others will adjust and still others will leave the service rather than do anything they would consider a faith compromise. “If there’s no protection for the chaplain to be able to speak according to his faith group, that might affect the number of chaplains we recruit or our ability to do our duty for the troops,” the Rev. Douglas Lee, a retired Presbyterian Air Force chaplain and brigadier general, told The Post.