Military chaplains have been given the go-ahead to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony,” a memo on Friday states. However, the ceremony must be in line with “applicable state and local law.”
The memo also noted that a chaplain’s beliefs may determine whether he or she participates in same-sex marriage ceremonies.
On Sept. 20, the military changed its policy on gay and lesbian people serving in the military, so that for the first time in U.S. history, they may serve openly.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” mandated that gays and lesbians could only serve in the military if they kept their sexual orientation private. Its repeal was passed in 2010 and went into effect this month.
Family Research Council, a conservative group in Washington, D.C., warned that with the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," the country would be headed down a "slippery slope toward other anti-family policies that would undermine national security."
Friday's memo is evidence of that, the group lamented.
"The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is very clear that the federal government defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. How is DOD (Department of Defense) skirting the law?" FRC posed.
"In true, White House fashion they're playing word games – calling them same-sex ceremonies in their stated policies but letting the chaplains call these charades 'marriages.' Words have meaning, and laws have purposes. This administration has shown that it has little regard for either."
The new military rules on marriage must agree with DOMA as well as local laws.
But following the official repeal of DADT, gay rights activists and lawmakers have been turning their attention to striking down DOMA.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) had tweeted, "Now that DADT is behind us, it's time to go get DOMA, don't you think?"
Since DADT was originally enacted, more than 14,000 gay and lesbian troops have been discharged. Soldiers discharged under DADT will now be allowed to reapply for military service.
The Family Research Council, which urged the Pentagon to postpone the repeal, said it has not received responses to questions regarding how the repeal will affect religious freedom and conscience exemptions.
"Today it's marriage. Tomorrow, it could be civil liberties or religious freedom that's redefined or ignored," FRC stated Friday.