Social conservatives have criticized
new guidance announced Friday that allows military chaplains to
officiate the marriages of gay service members.
The decision comes 10 days after the
end of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the policy that for 18 years
banned gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.
In a memo issued this morning by Under
Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley,
chaplains may officiate the marriage and civil union ceremonies of
gay couples, including on a military installation.
Missouri Representative Todd Akin
criticized the move, saying it would violate the Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bans the federal government from
recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
“The Defense of Marriage Act makes it
clear that for the purposes of the federal government, marriage is
defined as between one man and one woman,” Akin said. “The use
of federal property or federal employees to perform gay marriage
ceremonies is a clear contravention of the law.”
Akin and 63 members of the Republican
caucus forced the Navy last May to table its decision to allow
chaplains to officiate the marriages and civil union ceremonies of
gay couples once DADT was lifted.
In a letter
sent to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Akin and his colleagues warned
that the Navy's plan violated DOMA.
Tony Perkins, president of the
Christian conservative Family Research Council (FRC), agreed.
“It is outrageous that only ten days
after repeal of the law against homosexuality in the Armed Forces,
the Defense Department is already pushing the military further down
the slippery slope. The repeal law passed by the lame-duck Congress
last year said nothing about authorizing same-sex 'weddings' on
military bases or by military chaplains.”
“The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
remains the law in America, defining marriage as a union of one man
and one woman for all purposes under federal law.”
“I urge the Obama administration to
end its multi-front attack upon marriage, and I urge the Senate to
act upon the legislation which would forbid this further exploitation
of our military to advance a radical social agenda.”
groups cheer Pentagon decision to allow chaplains to perform gay