WASHINGTON, October 4, 2011 ( – A congressional Armed Services Subcommittee chair has said that September memos by the Pentagon announcing that military chaplains are permitted to officiate in homosexual “marriages” are instructing the military “to do things which are in fact illegal to do.”

Republican Representative Todd Akin, of Missouri, said that the memos appear to violate a May 2011 amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which instructs that the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) applies to federal employees and federal property.

“If the Department of Defense decides that they are going to have government-paid chaplains on government property performing homosexual marriages, they’re in direct violation of DOMA,” Akin told “When you see essentially laws being created or ignored by the executive branch, that says we are bordering on lawlessness.”


The Pentagon announced September 30 that military chaplains can officiate at homosexual “marriages.” The announcement came less than two weeks after the September 20 repeal of the Clinton-era “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.

“A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law,” said Undersecretary of Defense Clifford L. Stanley in a September 30 memo.

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The September 30 memo said a chaplain is not required to celebrate such unions “if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs.” It followed a September 21 memo by the Department of Defense’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, in which Johnson said that the use of military facilities for private functions, “including religious and other ceremonies,” should occur on a “sexual-orientation neutral basis.”

In December 2010, Congress repealed the DADT law, and in July, a federal court said the military should no longer enforce the policy. In their decision, the court cited an Obama administration brief filed against DOMA, asserting that the United States was guilty of “a significant history of purposeful discrimination against gay and lesbian people.”

In May 2011, Military chaplain agencies demanded conscience protections as the DADT repeal loomed. Twenty-one religious agencies that provide chaplains to the U.S. military sent a joint letter to the military’s chief of chaplains noting that the law designed to dismantle the DADT policy lacked conscience protections.