For God and Country

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Officer X

Wait, the chaplains are in the news… again? Military chaplains never make the headlines. Weird!

According to a letter written on Monday by retired chaplains and religious agencies to the services chiefs of chaplains, gays getting married in base chapels “creates an environment that is increasingly hostile to many chaplains – and the service members they serve – whose faith groups and personal consciences recognize homosexual behavior as immoral and unsafe and do not permit same-sex unions.”

For those of you who missed my first post, and are wondering what this shadowy figure is doing posting on Time’s Battleland Blog, I am a gay pilot in the United States armed forces who is serving actively in the military. Time has invited me to share my experiences with you as I watch the end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy from the perspective of the boots on the ground.

I personally plan to get married (yes, to a man) when I feel the time is right. It is a decision I do not take lightly, and a commitment I plan to keep. I would venture there are other gay servicemembers who share this desire.

Me getting married to another man does nothing to diminish the love of any heterosexual couple’s marriage. The act is anything but hostile and I don’t see why some feel they need “protection” from it happening. I understand and respect certain churches’ reluctance to accept homosexuality based on their interpretation of the Bible. Based on that precedent I can understand the desire of individual churches to not recognize gay marriage.

Military chapels are a tricky place, because they are both Church and State by definition; however, they are not one specific church. They are supposed to be a safe place for all faiths, including those accepting homosexuality. If the State were to accept gay marriage, there is nothing to say every church has to. In my opinion, there is no reason why the government (state or federal) should be able to define marriage in any way that discriminates. In the same sense, no church should be required to recognize a government-sponsored marriage contrary to their beliefs. There is a reason why heterosexual couples can get legally married in a courthouse, and spiritually married in their place of worship.

Chaplains don’t get offended by baptisms or other religious ceremonies which may not fall in line with their specific faith.

In essence, DOMA hurts gay couples, especially those in the military. After I get married it will keep me from being able to live in base housing with my spouse. It will deny him the same medical benefits I would be able to pass off to a wife. It also does nothing to “protect” straight couples, or their faith’s desire to exclude gays.

It may surprise people who don’t know me very well to learn the religious preference on my ID tags reads “Roman Catholic” and that I pray to God every single night. The act of me getting married should be considered no more “hostile” to a chaplain of another faith than any of the other differences between how we practice our two religions. My faith has made my journey a difficult one at times, but has carried me through others… but that’s another topic for another post.

– On Twitter @TIMEOfficerX