Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) joined 86 members of the House of Representatives in signing a letter urging the Senate to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting same-sex marriages in military facilities.
“This clear and deliberate violation of established U.S. law sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter states. “[The Defense of Marriage Act] makes it clear that for purposes of the federal government, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. The use of federal property or federal employees to perform anything but opposite-sex ceremonies is a clear contravention of the law.”
Following the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Department of Defense said it would allow military chaplains to marry gay couples on a “sexual orientation-neutral basis.” However, many conservative chaplains and members of Congress were upset at the wording of the memo.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is the author of the letter and said in a statement, “Unfortunately, this current administration is now directing the Department of Defense to ignore this law and perform gay marriages on military bases. I think that is wrong, which is why I offered an amendment to the House-passed defense bill making it clear that DOMA applies to the DOD. This letter calls for the Senate to add a similar amendment to their version of the bill. The Department of Defense should not be allowed to simply ignore laws they do not like.”
The issue of DOMA has been a huge sticking point in light of the Defense Department’s decision to repeal DADT. DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and if strictly enforced, would run contrary to allowing gay soldiers to marry.
In addition, same-sex couples are upset that benefits typically afforded to traditionally married couples, are not available to gay couples. This is one of the driving forces behind Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) attempt to overturn DOMA with the Respect for Marriage Act. Although it faces an uphill battle passing both chambers, the bill was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. However, the hearing has been postponed until next week.
Last week, homosexual couples in the military filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Boston – the same court that ruled DOMA unconstitutional last year – challenging the constitutionality of the federal ban on gay marriage. The 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the case.
In a Time Magazine article last week, Bachmann reiterated her opposition to same-sex marriage in light of the fact that her stepsister is a lesbian.
“And even after I left Minnesota, I worked with my successors and now Minnesota will be the first state to have on its ballot the definition of marriage as one man and one woman in this upcoming year,” Bachmann told those gathered at the Faith and Freedom conference in Iowa two weeks ago.
“And as president of the United States I would fully support the federal marriage amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman.”
In the same Time interview, Helen LaFave, who is Bachmann’s stepsister said, “Yes, we are family and we love each other, but she seems to have a disconnect. Her statements and actions related to gay rights are very hurtful, whether she understands that or not.”
Bachmann said that although she believes God’s plan for marriage is one man and one woman, she “loves” her stepsister.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said the senate will take up the bill before the end of the year.