NAE Vice President Galen Carey wrote Speaker John Boehner and ranking members of the Armed Services Committees asking them to keep religious freedom protections for military chaplains and service members in the National Defense Authorization Act. 

The Honorable John Boehner
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner,

As conferees reconcile the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, please ask them to retain sections 536 and 537, which are included in the House bill. These sections protect the religious freedom of military chaplains and service members, and clarify that Department of Defense facilities may not be used for same-sex marriage ceremonies.

American citizens who serve and defend our country through military service endure many sacrifices and hardships, but they must not be asked to surrender their religious freedom. The military has always provided for the spiritual needs of service members through the provision of chaplains who provide opportunities for worship, instruction and counseling.

We are concerned that some service members have been subjected to harassment, pressure and threats because of their religious beliefs about the appropriate expression of human sexuality. No service member should be silenced or discriminated against in personnel actions because of their religiously informed views on human sexuality.

Section 536 provides that:

The Armed Forces shall accommodate the conscience and sincerely held moral principles and religious beliefs of the members of the Armed Forces concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality and may not use such conscience, principles, or beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.

The protection offered by Section 536 is particularly important to service members who currently do not enjoy the same level of conscience and religious freedom protection as do chaplains. We have already seen cases in which chaplain’s assistants have been threatened with loss of their jobs, because their conscience does not permit them to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies. These service members require protection even more than chaplains, who enjoy some protection due to their office.

Thank you for protecting our service men and women as they continue to protect our country.


Galen Carey
Vice President, Government Relations