Department Issues Guidance on Chaplains, Facilities
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 30, 2011 The Defense Department has issued guidance saying decisions for use of DOD property should be made on a “sexual-orientation neutral” basis, and that military chaplains do not have to officiate at ceremonies that go against their religious tenets.
The memos -- signed by General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Clifford L. Stanley, the defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness -- have been sent to the field. They were issued in connection with the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law Sept. 20.
The Johnson memo says that “determinations regarding the use of DOD real property and facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a sexual-orientation neutral basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws.”
The Stanley memo on military chaplains states that “a military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law.”
The Stanley memo goes on to say that chaplains are not required to officiate at ceremonies that are in variance with the tenets of their beliefs.
Both memos stress that they do not constitute an endorsement of the activities by DOD.