Wednesday, November 2, 2011

U.S. House Seeks to Ban Gay Service Members from Marrying on Military Bases

Remember when Don't Ask Don't Tell got repealed and then the Pentagon issued guidelines allowing military chaplains the ability to perform wedding ceremonies for gay or lesbian couples either on- or off-base only if they wanted to and only in states or communities where marriage equality is legal?  Remember when the Catholic and Evangelical chaplain groups complained that their religious liberties were being violated by this ruling despite the fact that nobody is required to officiate at any wedding?  And then remember the time I wrote about the spokesman for the Military Chaplains Association (1,600 strong!) who asserted that most of their chaplains don't really believe that this new Pentagon policy will even affect them?  And remember how I pointed out that there are actually denominations that bless gay families and are willing to perform wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples (also on a voluntary basis) and then I questioned why their religious liberties are not being honored?

True to form, there are 86 U.S. House Members who want to make sure that nobody will be allowed to officiate at the wedding of a gay or lesbian service member, voluntary or not, religious liberties be damned:
Congressman Todd Akin, Chairman of the Seapower & Projection Forces Subcomittee, today released a letter to Senate leadership calling for the inclusion of language protecting traditional marriage on the National Defense Authorization Act. The letter was signed by 86 members of the House, calling for language similar to the Akin amendment that was carried on the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed into law by President Clinton,” said Congressman Akin. “Unfortunately, this current administration is now directing the Department of Defense to ignore this law and perform gay marriages on military bases. I think this 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.”
Just to summarize, the DOD has permitted chaplains the option of officiating at the weddings of gay and lesbian couples in states where it is legal. Nobody has been or will be forced to officiate at any wedding, gay or het. Religious and social conservatives are complaining that their religious liberties are being negatively impacted by this new guideline and, as a result, want to legislatively ban anyone from officiating at any gay wedding, regardless of whatever religious liberties are being trampled on by such a draconian decision.

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