Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said he would rather pass no defense bill at all than one which doesn't ban marriage for gay and lesbian service members.

Late last month Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley issued a memo which stated that chaplains may officiate the marriage and civil union ceremonies of gay couples in states where it's legal, including those taking place on military installations.

The issue had previously surfaced and the House responded in May by attaching a provision to the defense bill that bans such unions.

During an appearance on cabler C-Span's Newsmakers to air Sunday, McKeon told host John Donnelly of Congressional Quarterly that he would rather see the bill fail than have the marriage provision stripped. McKeon also wants a provision that seeks to direct suspected terrorists into military custody.

“It's a give and take process,” McKeon said, referring to the process of reconciliation between the House and the Senate.

“It's a give and take process, but you're not going to give on those two issues,” Donnelly asked.

“Right,” McKeon answered after a brief pause.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called McKeon's threat “shameful.”

“It's nothing short of shameful that the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, charged with protecting and authorizing funding for our nation's service members at war, would be willing to put at risk the equipment and supplies they need in order to advance his narrow, social agenda,” Sarvis said in a statement.