On May 9, my congressional representative circulated a newsletter containing his personal support of religious freedom. Rep. Doug Collins serves as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves and is welcome to his opinions about his faith. He is not, as a government official, free to mislead others of faith on the details of a legal case.
Collins stated that Chaplain Scott Squires did follow federal law and Army policy in rejecting a same-sex couple from a couples retreat. The military does not support Collins’ version of events. According to the Fayette Observer's story of April 18, Squires did not make arraignments for a “fellow chaplain to conduct a marriage retreat” until after a formal complaint.
That is not within military guidelines or federal law. When the sergeant and her same-sex wife applied to attend the “Strong Bonds” marriage retreat sponsored by the 1st Special Warfare Training Group, the chaplain and his assistant bluntly rejected the lesbian couple. The sergeant rightfully filed a Equal Opportunity complaint with the Army. As stated in the paper, after the complaint, and only after the complaint, did Chaplain Scott Squires attempt to find a different leader for the retreat.
Rep. Collins misrepresented the chaplain’s rejection of the same-sex couple as being lawful actions. Collins knows, or had reason to know, that the Army’s investigation had already made a finding against the chaplain. As of the May 9 newsletter, the Army had yet to discipline the chaplain or reject the findings.
We cannot have sound public policy if our lawfully elected officials cannot present basic facts in favor of personal opinion.
Michael W. Parker