Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkin’s invitation to speak at today’s National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., has been rescinded, causing the organization to question whether allowing gays in the military will not infringe on religious freedoms.
Perkins, who is a veteran of the Marine Corps, linked the retraction of the invitation to President Obama’s statement during the State of the Union address on Jan. 27, where he called on Congress to lift restrictions on service in the military by openly homosexual individuals. In the weeks since, the FRC has heavily criticized this proposal and urged Congress to uphold the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy that excludes gays from military service.
"As one who took the oath to defend and protect our freedoms, I am disappointed that I’ve been denied the opportunity to speak to members of the military solely because I exercised my free speech rights in a different forum," Perkins said.
He also expressed concern that this portends a "serious threat" to religious freedom.
"Such legislation would not merely open the military to homosexuals. It would result in a zero-tolerance policy toward those who disapprove of homosexual conduct," Perkins warned.
Meanwhile, the support to repeal the current policy appears to have gained momentum since the State of the Union speech. In recent weeks it has been endorsed by several top military officers, including General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and General Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. Retired General Colin Powell, who served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state, also supports this position.