I recently mentioned to my chaplain that I was going to get married to Chris a few months down the road. Now, in all honesty, I said it to see if my chaplain would react differently to that bit of news. "Was that the one you introduced me to at the Christmas party?" she asked... I nodded yes and waited for the reaction. "Praise be to God! I am so happy for you. You two will make such a great couple!" Honestly, I wasn't expecting that, it was quite a welcome declaration. She then went on about how people should be with whoever they are happiest with and that is good in God's eyes. She even offered any help with the matter! (Navy Petty Officer, Hawaii)
When I was at the United States Air Force Academy, I was going through a rough spot in my life about being gay in the military. Under "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) there was no real outlet to seek help. Medical professionals and counselors were still bound by DADT, so we could be fired for having discussions with them about our sexual orientation. But there was always one outlet many of us who were gay could turn to: military chaplains.
This was the story for many of us gay cadets at the Air Force Academy. A number of gay cadets would regularly seek in the chaplains not only spiritual guidance but friends who understood what DADT was truly doing to us. They were always the group of people we could trust and call upon at any time of the day just to listen to us talk about the struggles we were having:
Twice I went to confession with Catholic Air Force chaplains. Both times were very positive ... Both situations were pre-DADT. The end result for both was basically to trust in the power of prayer. No judgment was passed by either chaplain and both continued to interact with me as if I had never said anything. (Airman, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico)
The military chaplain corps is one of the most respectable and professional careers in the military. They embrace not only their religion but their creed to respect, love, and serve every single sailor, soldier, and Marine in the military.
Right now there is a war being waged on the chaplaincy, and it is not coming from the gays in the military. It's coming from outside groups proclaiming that military chaplains are anti-gay. There are even gay chaplains who are scared of losing their jobs because of the misconception that gay people cannot be chaplains:
A few more conversations later, I came out to her [my chaplain]. She listened while I talked about living under DADT for 12 years and what it has done to my children and me. She offered advice, and promised not to tell anyone. Months and months went by, and we came home; everyone in the unit spread out while on leave. She called me at about 9pm one night and asked me to meet her at a restaurant in a town about 30 minutes away. When I got there, I saw that she was with another female from my unit. She stood up as I got to the table, and introduced herself by her first name, and then turned to the woman sitting next to her, and introduced her as her girl friend. ... I find it sad that even after DADT is gone, some of us still have to serve silently. (Army soldier, Fort Bragg)
At West Point, when gay and lesbian graduates and cadets gathered for Knights Out, the LGBT alumni group's annual dinner, they were welcomed with a joyful invocation from an Army chaplain, saying, in part:
[T]he Hudson River calls to mind the words of Amos, who prophesized about some future day "when justice would roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." This is that day the prophecy is fulfilled. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. ...
May the repeal of the [DADT] law and our gathering here tonight help restore integrity and honor to these brave men and women. May these patriots gathered here begin to breathe freely knowing that those who are serving have allies in the chaplain corps to whom they can turn and find the powerful presence of a loving, inclusive, accepting, living God. (Army Chaplain, Camp Smith)
Military chaplains aren't shunning gay servicemen and women; they're shunning people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. In 2010, even before the repeal of DADT, his invitation to speak at a national prayer luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base was rescinded. Joint Base Andrews Chaplain's Office released the following statement when they rescinded his invitation: "The Chaplain's Office retracted Mr. Perkins' invitation after his recent public comments made many who planned to attend the event uncomfortable. This was a local decision made by the Chaplain's Office who wanted the luncheon to be inclusive for the entire base community."
Let's make one thing clear: People like Tony Perkins don't speak for us currently serving, or for the majority of chaplains. The organizations that purport to "represent" chaplains are isolated from those who actually serve in today's military.
These chaplains are my friends, my support, and rock. For me and thousands of other gays in the military, the story is no different. The lies that chaplains are against us, and our friends, need to stop.
Please note: These views are my personal views and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the Air Force.
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