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Pentagon gives military chaplains approval to perform same-sex weddings

Friday, September 30, 2011

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense on Friday announced that the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces are authorized to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies for same-sex military couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

According to a memorandum issued by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley:

“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.

Further, a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs.”

Also released by the Pentagon Friday is a facilities memo signed by DOD General Legal Counsel Jeh Johnson, who wrote that “military facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a ‘sexual-orientation neutral’ basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws.”

The policies echo a determination made last April by the Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, who in a memo clarified after gaining the advice of the Defense Department’s legal counsel that individual chaplains would be permitted — and expressly not obligated — to officiate weddings for gay and lesbian service members at base facilities in states that allow marriage for same-sex couples.

Admiral Tidd later suspended his memorandum after social conservative groups and a group of 63 House Republicans criticized his guidance, claiming it violated Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Friday’s actions by the Pentagon faces opposition from religious organizations, and conservative Republicans who have raised the argument that this policies clashes with DOMA.

The announcement coincided with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen’s retirement from active service. Mullen’s personal support for ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” gave a crucial boost to the repeal movement.

“We are pleased the Department of Defense has made it clear that a military Chaplain is allowed to perform any lawful ceremony that is consistent with his or her beliefs and is not required to perform a ceremony that is inconsistent with those beliefs,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a statement.

“The guidance issued today strikes the right balance between respecting the faith traditions of chaplains and affording all service members the same rights under current law. This is another logical step in the direction of full equality for gay and lesbian service members,” Sarvis said.

“There are many chaplains in the military who simply do not believe that gay and lesbian service members are second-class citizens, and those chaplains should have the freedom to practice their religion as they see fit, including officiating at ceremonies that their denominations recognize,” said Alex Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United.

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32 more reader comments:

  1. Awesome way to go..

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:28pm
  2. Alright lets keep this movement movin!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:28pm
  3. Good!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:32pm
  4. WOOT WOOT!!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:32pm
  5. lol..this post is a day late and a dolla short

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:34pm
  6. this is how our Government should work :)

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:35pm
  7. Thats a step forward!!!PLATNUM!!!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:38pm
  8. Ok but what about medical insurance for same sex married couples??!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:42pm
  9. yay, that is so great, i am so proud to be an american, we are moving in the right direction!!!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 10:00pm
  10. As a legally married couple the insurance coverage available to a military couple would confer.

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 10:12pm
  11. WOW!!! I did not see this coming!!! Awesome!!!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 10:14pm
  12. Love it. CHEERS.

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 10:16pm
  13. wewt

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 10:17pm
  14. Great! It’s about time!! Way to go!!

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 10:39pm
  15. Here comes same sex. Benefits…..wahooooo

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 11:45pm
  16. Still wondering why my nation, that is a secular one with a secular constitution, is paying chaplains to do anything. Nevertheless, good stuff.

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 11:57pm
  17. It’s about time. :) It’s so odd to me that equality is something we’re excited about… It should just be the norm…

    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 11:59pm
  18. It’s about time for the change to go nation and world WIDE…Thank you for the changes.

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 12:01am
  19. NOW that IS BIG NEWS !!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 12:02am
  20. Another win for the military!!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 12:04am
  21. Right on!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 12:18am
  22. Wonderful news!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 3:38am
  23. Wonderful news. Each step forward is one closer to marriage equality. :)

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 4:21am
  24. Fantastic!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 6:02am
  25. yay!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 6:06am
  26. PRICELESS !

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 7:35am
  27. YES!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 7:49am
  28. awesome!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 8:04am
  29. boy, this is gonna piss some people off,,,,,lol

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 8:27am
  30. WOW THIS IS REALLY GREAT NEWS!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 12:07pm
  31. I thought if you were on a military post you were protected from state laws. Certainly in the old days you could drink alcohol on military bases that were located in “dry” counties in Texas. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if military chaplains could marry service members everywhere, so long as they were on post.

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 12:35pm
  32. Wonderful! Hurray!

    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 2:19pm