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.”

(Related: Gay groups cheer Pentagon decision to allow chaplains to perform gay marriage.)