Religious liberty advocates remained wary of Obama’s interpretation of the law.
“Chaplains should be able to stand by their faith traditions and honor their commitment to God’s Word. That’s a freedom that Congress sought to protect, and the president is not at liberty to disregard the law,” said Col. Ron Crews, a retired Army chaplain and executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
“Every member of our armed forces should be able to serve without surrendering their beliefs,” Crews said in a statement.
An earlier version of the NDAA had banned same-sex marriage ceremonies on U.S. military property. A White House policy statement in May 2012 strongly objected to that provision, and listed it as one of the reasons Obama’s seniors advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.
That section that banned gay marriage ceremonies was ultimately removed from the final bill, and the Pentagon issued a ruling in September 2012 allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex unions, on or off a military installation.
Chaplains who have moral objections are now exempt under that rule. The NDAA means that the conscience clause has the backing of law.