After the dust-up over the effect that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would have on the religious freedom of chaplains, chaplains themselves are among the first to receive training about what the policy means and how it should be implemented. What of those chaplains who argued against the repeal? Are they leaving? It seems not. Or, at least, not in droves as some critics of the repeal warned. At a meeting hosted by the Interfaith Alliance in Washington, DC, last week, Navy Chaplain John Lee said he knew of only one Navy chaplain leaving because of the policy (one out of a 880) and Chaplain Carleton Birch of the Army Chief of Chaplains office said that “very few are going to get out over the issue.”
In digging around for opinions on the issue from chaplains, I came across a number of concerns along with a very moving plea from a military chaplain to President Obama. In April 2010, the anonymous chaplain wrote:
As they sleep under the crosses, the stars of David and the crescents there is no bigotry. There is no prejudice. There is no hatred. And within the sacred confines of their resting place there is no law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” There is only purest democracy.
When the final cross has been placed in the last cemetery, will it only be then that we as a nation acknowledge our gay brothers and sisters who took the risks of life and truth to answer their nation’s highest calling? How many of these brave men and women lie in military graves and still hide in death?
They are among the unknown soldiers.
He goes on to write that DADT “degrades the human soul because it forces those who willingly serve to live in shameful humiliation because of deceit and fear.” There comes a time, he concludes “when despair and fear must end.”