Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said military chaplains are being forced to officiate the weddings of 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. The mostly GOP lawmakers argued that allowing such marriages violates the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

During an appearance on cabler C-Span's Newsmakers, McKeon said he would rather see the bill fail than have the marriage provision stripped.

“This is one of the concerns we had. That we were rushing this … to eliminate this before we had fully prepared things,” he said, referring to the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the law that for 18 years banned gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.

“And DOMA is the law of the land,” McKeon said.

“The Defense of Marriage Act,” host John Donnelly expanded.

“It is. And we think that chaplains should not be forced to do something that goes against their conscience.”

When Donnelly explained that chaplains would not be required to perform such ceremonies, a smug McKeon answered: “I know how you get the camel's bells in the tent and things just start expanding. As soon as it happened, there were already calls to have marriages. We knew this was going to happen, that's why we asked to take a little time and not rush into this. Solve a problem – a political problem – again on the backs of the military.”