As the Supreme Court hears arguments today on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, supporters of the federal law say it has protected military personnel with strong religious beliefs.
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, which screens chaplains for military service, argues that if DOMA is struck down, chaplains and service members from religions that oppose homosexuality will find their voices silenced and their opportunities for advancement limited.
Retired Col. Ron Crews, the group's executive director, says supporters of "don't ask, don't tell" were assured that lifting the ban on openly gay service would have limited impact because DOMA was still the federal law governing the military.
Now gay advocates are challenging the law, saying it dishonors gay service members and their spouses by denying them marital benefits.
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