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Published On: Sun, Jan 6th, 2013

Obama removes conscience protections for military chaplains from bill, calling them ‘ill advised’

President Obama moved forward on new NDAA provisions, but excluded some language designed to protect the “freedom of conscience” for military chaplains, which has come into question during the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

photo  Julyo based on work by Gilbert Baker, 1979 via wikimedia commons

photo Julyo based on work by Gilbert Baker, 1979 via wikimedia commons

Obama has signed the $633 billion defense bill into law but called the conscience provision “unnecessary and ill-advised” and said his administration remains committed “to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members.

Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members,” he said in his signing statement.

Obama made clear that his administration would remain unmoved by the NDAA’s conscience provision, stating that the Department of Defense would continue to implement the repeal of the military’s ban on homosexual service members.

“My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.”

The president said that the Secretary of Defense would ensure that no “discriminatory” actions result from Section 533’s conscience protections.

“The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct.”

Section 533 of the NDAA provides legal protections for military chaplains, barring the Defense Department from forcing them to perform services which violate their moral or religious beliefs.

“No member of the Armed Forces may — (1) require a chaplain to perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain; or (2) discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain, including denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment, on the basis of the refusal by the chaplain to comply with a requirement prohibited by paragraph,” the section reads.

Advocates had feared that the military might begin forcing chaplains to perform marriage or civil commitment ceremonies for homosexual service members or civilians in states where such ceremonies are legal – ceremonies which could run afoul of the religious beliefs of those chaplains.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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