Echoing concerns that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will somehow infringe on the religious liberty of military chaplains, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriates bill defunding training for chaplains about the adjustment to gay and lesbian servicemembers serving openly. The amendment passed 236-184, with nine Republicans voting against it and nine Democrats voting for it.
During the debate last night, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) called out Huelskamp for not even having read the training manual before proposing the amendment and second-guessing the judgment of the military:
POLIS: Has the gentleman from Kansas read the training manual that he’s seeking to defund?
HUELSKAMP: Madam Chair, that is an excellent question. We tried to obtain a copy of that from the Department of Defense today and they refused to provide a copy. What I do have is an online three-page summary of the manual.
POLIS: So, reclaiming my time, I think that the straight answer is no. In fact, our ranking member and others have been unable to get that from the Navy Liaison’s Office.
Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Carleton Birch said back in February that chaplains already have experience counseling soldiers who are gay and no changes are necessary to protect their rights. Capt. John F. Gundlach, a retired Navy chaplain, has called claims to the contrary a pursuit of bigotry, not liberty. Gundlach is part of a group called the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, a coalition of chaplains who have filed a brief supporting the repeal of DADT for the way it actually ends imposed dogma that is offensive to many religious groups. Most importantly, the chaplain trainings that have already taken place have gone smoothly.