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GOP senators introduce bill to prohibit same-sex ceremonies on military bases

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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WASHINGTON — Two U.S. Senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would prohibit same-sex unions from being held on military bases.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), introduced the Military Religious Freedom Act, which explicitly outlines how the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) should be applied to the Department of Defense.

Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens in a civil union ceremony presided by a Navy chaplain at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in June 2012.

Specifically, the bill would prevent military chaplains from being forced to perform a marriage ceremony if the chaplain objects for reasons of conscience, and prohibit marriage or marriage-like ceremonies at military facilities that are not a union between one man and one woman.

“The Defense of Marriage Act remains law, and as policy changes are implemented by the Department of Defense, the statute must be followed,” Wicker said. “This legislation also protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains who are serving our nation in the Armed Forces.”

“President Obama and his administration are dismissing their responsibility to uphold the law of the land by unilaterally deeming DOMA unworthy of enforcement,” said Inhofe.

“At the same time, since the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, they have begun to pressure military chaplains to fall in line with their liberal same-sex marriage agenda. This bill protects military chaplains from being forced to go against their conscience and religious beliefs in regard to this issue. This is something the chaplains that serve this country need and deserve,” Inhofe added.

In June, the first public same-sex civil union was performed at the U.S. Joint Base McGuire-Dix located near Lakehurst, N.J. A private commitment ceremony was held previously in May at Fort Polk in Louisiana, although civil unions nor same-sex marriages are legal in that state.

Last year, the Department of Defense authorized military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages in accordance with state law. The authorization allows military chaplains to participate in ceremonies on or off military bases in states that recognize same-sex marriage.

The Department of Justice stopped defending DOMA in federal court actions after a determination by both President Obama and U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder last spring.

Congressional GOP leaders, angered by what they labeled a blatant disregard for prescribed constitutional duties by the administration, replaced the Justice Department lawyers with a team of outside private lawyers paid for by the U.S. House of Representatives to continue to defend the statue in federal court actions.

A spokesperson for the administration Wednesday declined to comment on the proposed legislation.

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