'Don't ask' author: Pay heed to chaplains

Dec. 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department's report on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy singled out military chaplains as one group whose opinion merits strong attention.

While the report indicated 70 percent of service members said they thought there would be little or no negative impact to military readiness and unit cohesion if the government were to end its ban on gays serving openly in the military, its authors said no singular group provides such strong or divergent views as the military's chaplains, The Washington Post reported online Wednesday.

The authors of the report, released Tuesday, said three of the 145 chaplains who participated in focus groups indicated they would quit or retire if the law was changed. The report indicated a split among chaplains, with many chaplains expressing opposition to a repeal while many others said they would not object.

"In the course of our review, we heard 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," the report said. "In equally strong terms, other chaplains, including those who also believe homosexuality is a sin, informed us that 'we are all sinners,' and that it is a chaplain's duty to care for all service members."

The military has 3,000 chaplains. No percentage breakdown was provided for the focus group.

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