Reaction Mixed as Military Lifts Ban on Gays

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The military's 18-year-old ban on homosexuals is officially over.

But not everyone at the Pentagon is onboard with the change -- especially military chaplains who fear they won't be able to voice their religious beliefs.

"It was fundamentally against everything we stand for as an institution to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform," said Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen. "We are better than that."

More than 13,000 gay service members lost their jobs for violating the rule. Those discharged can now reenlist.

"Just because I have been burnt by this policy doesn't mean that's been taken out of who I am," Sgt. Bleu Copas said. "I am still a patriot. I am still a soldier at heart."

Navy Lt. Gary Ross and Dan Swezy celebrated the repeal by getting married in Vermont, just moments after the new policy went into effect.

"It's an indescribable feeling when you think, 'Finally, we can be just like everybody else,'" Swezy said.

The Pentagon did little to celebrate the event. But the White House was quick to release a video called "A Personal Promise Kept."

The video is posted on Obama's 2012 campaign website. It includes a comment he made last December saying, "We are not a nation that says, 'Don't ask, don't tell.' We are a nation that says, 'Out of many, we are one,'" Obama said last December."

Top military brass insist that allowing gays to serve openly won't hurt military readiness. But some military leaders argued that, saying the repeal will cause backlash.

"Virtually every military expert has admitted that, yes there will be problems with this. The only questions is how do we mitigate the problems," explained Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness.

"We are headed into some very difficult times in the armed forces," she continued. "It has nothing to do with weapons, planes, systems or hardware. It has to do with morale. It has to do with culture of the military."

Some military chaplains worry the move could silence religious convictions.

For example, some question whether a chaplin be able turn away a homosexual soldier who wants to teach Sunday school, or even a gay couple wanting to attend a military marriage retreat?

"We're doing away with one 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy," said Ron Crews, director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. "But we're gonna have another 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy and it is, 'If I hold biblical values concerning homosexuality, don't ask me about them because if you ask me about them, I'm going to have to tell you.'"

Douglas Lee is a retired Army chaplain who now works with and advises active duty chaplains. He said it should be business as usual.

"Our chaplains will minister to those folks as they have for decades to take of them as best they can," he said. "But when it comes to proclaiming truth as we understand it from the Bible -- preaching, teaching, marrying, burying -- we want to continue to boldly proclaim our faith tenants."

Now that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is gone, some say homosexual service members will likely set their sights on getting the same benefits as other military spouses.

"The president was determined to deliver this political promise to the LGBT activists groups," Donnelly added. "Unfortunately that day has come and the military is going to pay a big price."

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Tyler James

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