According to a statement from the United States Navy’s head chaplain, Rear Admiral Mark Tidd, chaplains who are stationed on Naval bases that are located within states that allow for same sex marriages will be allowed to officiate ceremonies for couples of the same gender where at least one member is serving.
This new ruling comes after the legislation to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy was initiated and passed last year, allowing entry into military service for openly gay, lesbian and bisexual persons for the first time since DADT’s passage into law in 1993, under former President Bill Clinton. The new regulations surrounding procedures and guidelines for the military under the repeal have not yet been finalized, but the Department of Defense and the Obama Administration have hinted at full removal of DADT sometime this summer.
The memo for chaplains stated that officiants would not be required to perform the same sex ceremonies if they felt uncomfortable with it, or due to their religious preferences, but that base facilities located in states where same sex marriage is permitted would be authorized for use in the ceremonies. The memo also acknowledged that a full exploration of the legality of such a change was undertaken before the new guidelines for Navy chaplains were released, but already a member of the House of Representatives, Missouri Representative Todd Atkin has challenged the new guidleines, saying Monday that the definition of federal property inferred by the US Military makes such a change a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law prohibiting same sex marriage in the US. According to Atkins, “While a state may legalize same-sex marriage, federal property and federal employees, like Navy chaplains, should not be used to perform marriages that are not recognized by federal law.
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