Baptist group bars chaplains from same-sex rituals

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention, which provides the largest share of active-duty military chaplains, has barred members from performing gay marriages and taking part in counseling sessions and couples retreats for same-sex couples.

An arm of the group, the North American Mission Board, issued the decision in the wake of the U.S. Department of Defense recognizing same-sex marriages and extending benefits to gay spouses.

A Defense Department spokesman did not immediately return a message.

The Pentagon, following a Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, said last month same-sex spouses of troops will be eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits as heterosexual spouses. The policy took effect Tuesday.

The military has 439 active-duty chaplains and 268 reserve-duty chaplains affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

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