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Navy Halts Decision to Let Chaplains Wed Gay Couples

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By Stephanie Samuel, Christian Post Reporter
May 11, 2011|2:55 pm

Navy officials succumbed on Tuesday to Republican pressure and reversed their decision to permit chaplains to perform same-sex unions on Naval bases once the military ban on open homosexuality is lifted.

In a one-sentence memo sent to The Associated Press, chief Navy chaplain Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, said his earlier decision to allow a chaplain to officiate a same-sex, civil marriage has been "suspended until further notice pending additional legal and policy review and interdepartmental coordination."

The military branch said it wants its lawyers to do a more thorough review on the legal issue of allowing Navy chaplains located in states where gay marriage is legal to receive training to perform civil unions on military bases, according to Fox News.

A previous memo revealing the training change incited anger among conservatives still recovering from 2010 repeal of the “don't ask, don't tell” federal ban on open homosexuality in the military.

Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance said of the move, "As we predicted, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell would only further advance the radical homosexual lobby's intentions."

President Barack Obama signed the legislation repealing DADT last December after it passed the U.S. House and Senate. During the signing ceremony, he called for a swift transition process. Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley said in late January that he projects repeal training and implementation will be completed within a year.

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Chaplains were among the first to receive the training. In implementing the training, Navy officials said they gave the green light for chaplains to wed same-sex couples after questions came up about civil ceremonies for gay couples.

According to the Navy Times, earlier training guidelines issued by the Defense Department and the military services did not mention same-sex ceremonies and therefore were not explicitly prohibited.

The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council blasted the training change saying, "Call it what you will, but that's not a change to 'training' – that's a circumvention of U.S. law."

The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the sake of federal laws and benefits. As a federal law, DOMA must be enforced by all federal agencies and entities.

House Republicans, in agreement with conservatives, wrote letters to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus objecting to the Navy's initial decision and urging the branch to explain the change in relation to DOMA.

"We find it unconscionable that the United States Navy, a federal entity sworn to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States, believes it is their place alone to train and direct service members to violate federal law," read the lawmakers' letter.

The letter was signed by 63 House members.

House Republicans also, according to FRC reports, created at least two bills to delay the actual repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policies and reinforce the traditional definition of marriage in the military in response to the change.

The Navy's reversal on the training change means it is questionable whether future openly gay soldiers will be able to utilize military chapels and catering centers for civil union and marriage ceremonies in applicable states.

Currently, six jurisdictions – that of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. – allow same-sex couples to be joined in marriage.

Of the 50 states, 31 states have passed referendums that protect traditional marriage; 29 states of those states now have laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

 

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