Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lesbians Have Military Commitment Ceremony // 3 GOP Congressmen Flip Out

As you likely remember, Don't Ask, Don't Tell officially ended on September 20, 2011. One of the unexpected bits that came from DADT's repeal was a Pentagon policy allowing military chaplains to perform wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples in states or communities where marriage equality is legal and they can use DOD property and resources in these situations. This is a voluntary action. In other words, this can only happen because the chaplain wants it to happen. If a chaplain doesn't want to officiate at a wedding, he or she can totally refuse and it's okay.

Almost immediately after that, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and the Catholic Archdiocese for Military Services both informed the DOD that they will not be officiating at any gay wedding ceremonies, which was a permitted response. Shortly after that, we learned through representatives for the Military Chaplains Association that most of the military's chaplains don't believe this will be a problem since they are not required to officiate at gay weddings if they don't want to.

Further adding to the mess was the first of several attempts by GOP politicians to ban chaplains from officiating at gay weddings, voluntarily or not, on- or off-base. Period. In other words, they are so concerned about the religious liberties of people who disagree with marriage equality that they are willing to trample over the religious liberties of those gay and lesbian service members who believe in the sanctity of marriage as well as those chaplains who believe in inclusive marriage.

So far, the Pentagon policy allowing chaplains to officiate at gay weddings stands, but the GOP are still howling for blood. Especially after news leaked late last week that a chaplain officiated at the commitment ceremony of two lesbians at Fort Polk Army Base in Louisiana, a state that does not recognize marriage equality or civil unions or domestic partnerships or any of the other marriage-lite marriage alternatives that heterosexual people believe gay couples should be happy with. Three Republican congressmen (all from Louisiana) have used this incident to speak out against both this policy and DADT's repeal:
HUELSKAMP: Americans should be outraged at what happened at Ft. Polk. Not only is it a clear violation of the State of Louisiana’s law to allow this “ceremony” to go forward, but this happened despite last year’s assurances from the Department of Defense that state law recognizing only traditional marriage would be respected and upheld. They clearly lied.

FLEMING: The liberal social experiment with our military continues. My frustration is compounded by the fact that a social agenda, which has nothing to do with military readiness or our national defense, is being imposed on our men and women in uniform.

AKIN: This appears to be a case where political agenda has trumped the rule of law, which is absolutely unacceptable. 
For their part, Fort Polk spokesmen have clarified that "everyone at the base chapel understood it was not a marriage ceremony." It should also be noted that it is not illegal in Louisiana or anywhere else for GLBT people to hold commitment ceremonies.


Anonymous said...


My husband is also an Army chaplain, and I found your blog searching for exposure about the commitment ceremony at Ft. Polk that has a POSITIVE spin to it. Thank you so much for writing this - after seeing page after page on Google of vitriol by right-wingers about this ceremony, it was refreshing to read a balanced and rational perspective on it! The backlash of this event is incredible, and I am so proud and thankful for chaplains who are willing to protect the freedoms of our LGBT Soldiers.


Jon said...

No problem, S. People act like it's a violation of the rights of soldiers when things like this happen. Well, what about the rights of the soldier(s) in this commitment ceremony, or of the chaplains who voluntarily agreed to officiate? I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)