FORT POLK, La. — Three Republican U.S. Congressmen this week denounced a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony held at a U.S. Army chapel in Louisiana last month.
U.S. Reps. John Fleming, (R-La.) and Todd Akin, (R-Mo.), both members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, said that the ceremony conducted at Fort Polk U.S. Army base was improper because the women’s ceremony was “marriage-like,” and should have been stopped because Louisiana does not recognize same-sex marriage.
“A same-sex marriage-like ceremony should not have occurred at Fort Polk, especially since the people of Louisiana have made it abundantly clear that our state does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions,” he said.
Fleming added that the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy which banned openly gay service members, makes “incidents like this inevitable,” and an example why Congress should pass legislation to prohibit “same-sex marriages or marriage-like ceremonies” on military installations.
“This appears to be a case where political agenda has trumped the rule of law,” Akin said, “which is absolutely unacceptable.”
Akin is currently sponsoring a measure to ban same-sex weddings on military bases, and said that the base officials had violated state law as well as his understanding of Defense Department policies.
Last year, following the repeal of DADT, the U.S. Department of Defense issued guidelines allowing military chaplains to perform weddings for same-sex couples, stipulating that those marriages could only be performed in states where it was legal and with a willing chaplain.
Fort Polk spokesman Scott Stearns said the couple took part in a “commitment ceremony,” and that everyone at the base chapel understood it was not a marriage ceremony.
In January, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) proposed a bill that would prohibit military chaplains from performing all same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“Americans should be outraged at what happened at Ft. Polk,” said Huelskamp.
“Not only is it a clear violation of the State of Louisiana’s law to allow this ‘ceremony’ to go forward, but this happened despite last year’s assurances from the Department of Defense that state law recognizing only traditional marriage would be respected and upheld. They clearly lied,” he said.