WASHINGTON, DC, May 11, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following an uproar after the Office of the Chief of Navy Chaplains authorized navy chaplains to perform same-sex “marriages” in naval chapels in an April 13 memo, Chief of Navy Chaplains, Rear Adm. Mark Tidd issued a one-sentence memo late yesterday reversing the directive.
The original decision to allow the ceremonies was motivated by the pending repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the 17-year-old ban on open homosexuals serving in the military. That repeal was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December, but cannot go into effect until 60 days after the president and his senior defense advisers certify that lifting the ban would not hurt troops’ unit cohesion and military order. This has not yet taken place.
More than 60 House members wrote to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus this week to object to the Navy’s initial ruling, saying the service was violating the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act by appearing to recognize and support same-sex “marriages,” according to an Associated Press report.
“We find it unconscionable that the United States Navy, a federal entity sworn to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States, believes it is their place alone to train and direct service members to violate federal law,” said the lawmakers’ letter, which was signed by 63 House members.
DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman in federal law, and protects states from having to recognize gay “marriages” contracted in other states.
In the new memo Rear Adm. Tidd said that he had “suspended until further notice” his earlier decision, “pending additional legal and policy review and interdepartmental coordination.”
The first memo, titled Revision of Chaplain Corps Tier 1 DADT Repeal Training, indicated that same-sex ceremonies would be allowed at military facilities such as chapels and mess halls following DADT repeal, but only in states that already recognize same-sex unions.
“Regarding the use of base facilities for same-sex marriages, the legal counsel has concluded that generally speaking, base facility use is sexual orientation neutral. If 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 training revision memo states, adding, “This is a change to previous training that stated same-sex marriages are not authorized on federal property.”
However, the admiral’s original directive, while giving chaplains permission to “marry” homosexual couples, did allow for conscientious objection and would not force them to perform the ceremonies.
“Regarding chaplain participation, consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization, a chaplain may officiate a same-sex, civil marriage: if it is conducted in accordance with the laws of the state which permits same-sex marriages or union; and if the chaplain is, according to applicable state and local laws, otherwise fully certified to officiate that state’s marriages.”
Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) told CNSNews , “Offering up federal facilities and federal employees for same-sex marriage violates DOMA, which is still the law of the land and is bound to the duties of our military, including chaplains.” He added that in attempting to “hustle-in homosexuality, the administration and various states may be operating as if DOMA doesn’t exist, but the Navy and Marine Corps and all the Armed Services are sworn to obey the law, which this new instruction violates.”