Navy chaplains will be allowed to officiate at gay marriage and civil union ceremonies on base once “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is lifted, the Navy Times reported.

The military's ban on open gay service was repealed by Congress in December and the Pentagon has begun training for the policy's end, which is expected before the end of the year.

An April 13 memo from Chief of Chaplains Rear Admiral Mark Tidd reads, in part: “Consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization, a chaplain may officiate a same-sex, civil marriage.”

“[I]f the base is located in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, then base facilities may normally be used to celebrate the marriage,” the memo continues. “This is true for purely religious services (e.g., a chaplain blessing a union) or a traditional wedding (e.g., a chaplain both blessing and conducting the ceremony).”

A spokeswoman for the Defense Department, Eileen Lainez, told the paper that such a move would not violate the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans federal agencies from recognizing the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

“DOMA does not limit the type of religious ceremonies a chaplain may perform in a chapel on a military installation,” she wrote in an email.

Social conservatives disagreed.

“Now that the ban on homosexuals in the military is overturned, the White House is trying to enlist the troops in its war on DOMA,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative Family Research Council, in a blog post. “And if the administration won't uphold the law, then it shouldn't surprise anyone that the president would order the military to ignore it.”

“If the administration keeps pounding its agenda through the military, we'll need the Navy SEALs to rescue marriage,” he added.

Representative Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri, told the paper that the guidance “clearly violates the law.”

“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,” Akin said.

DOMA will block the Navy from recognizing the marriages of gay troops, denying them housing and spousal benefits.