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US Navy reverses course on gay ‘marriages’comment (0)

June 2, 2011


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy rescinded May 10 its permission for chaplains to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies on base when the ban on open homosexuality in the military is lifted. The switch came after members of Congress charged the change in policy violates the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark Tidd reversed course after his April 13 memo became publicized May 9 and drew a sharp rebuke from more than 60 representatives.

Tidd said late May 10 he was suspending his authorization “pending additional legal and policy review” and enhanced cooperation with other branches of the military. News media coverage and the outcry from Congress caused armed forces lawyers to review Tidd’s memo, a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged. “That raised the issue, so the (Navy) legal counsel looked at it and determined it needed further review,” Col. Dave Lapan said. In his April memo, Tidd authorized Navy chaplains to officiate at on-base, same-sex ceremonies in states where such unions are allowed. He also said naval base facilities “may normally be used to celebrate the marriage” if the base is in a state that has legalized same-sex “marriage.”

Sixty-three members of the House of Representatives complained to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus after Tidd’s memo was revealed. Led by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., the representatives said they “find it difficult to understand how the military is somehow exempt from abiding by” DOMA. DOMA, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, defines marriage in federal law as being between a man and a woman and empowers states to refuse to recognize another state’s gay “marriages.” “Offering up federal facilities and federal employees for same-sex ‘marriages’ violates DOMA, which is still the law of the land and binds our military, including chaplains,” the House members told Mabus in a May 6 letter.

Akin said in a statement released May 9 with the letter, “While a state may legalize same-sex ‘marriage,’ federal property and federal employees, like Navy chaplains, should not be used to perform marriages that are not recognized by federal law.” On May 12, the House Armed Services Committee passed legislation to ban military chaplains from performing same-sex “marriages” and bar the use of armed services facilities for such ceremonies. The amendment, which was part of the yearly Defense Authorization Bill, was passed 60–1.

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