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Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has blasted a U.S. Navy decision permitting chaplains to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples as "a circumvention of U.S. law."
In an April 13 memo on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal, Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, clarified that base facilities are "sexual orientation neutral," and that chaplains may perform marriages for gay couples "if it is conducted in accordance with the laws of a state which permits same-sex marriage[.]"
In a recent blog post, Perkins, who has said in the past that "don't ask, don't tell" repeal training would indoctrinate service members "into the myths of the homosexual movement," wrote that allowing chaplains to perform weddings for same-sex couples on base facilities would violate the Defense of Marriage Act. "If the administration keeps pounding its agenda through the military, we'll need the Navy SEALs to rescue marriage," he quipped.
"The Defense of Marriage Act -- which governs not just the military, but every federal entity -- states that marriage is the legal union of a man and woman," Perkins continued. "Now that the ban on homosexuals in the military is overturned, the White House is trying to enlist the troops in its war on DOMA. And if the administration won't uphold the law, then it shouldn't surprise anyone that the President would order the military to ignore it."
A group of 63 House Republican members seem to agree with the sentiment: In a Friday letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the group, led by Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, wrote: "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."
Rep. Akin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is expected to offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to bar marriage ceremonies for gay couples at base facilities.
That amendment -- along with one offered by Rep. Duncan Hunter that would seek to delay repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" by requiring a sign-off by all military service chiefs -- has little chance of ultimately passing, given the Democrat-controlled Senate and an administration that has celebrated its commitment to "don't ask, don't tell" repeal as a seminal victory.
Update: Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, issued the following statement on the matter:
"Mr. Perkins is wrong. Permitting chaplains to voluntary perform marriages between same-sex couples does not run afoul of the law in any way. A military chaplain simply serving as a marriage officiant does not constitute federal government recognition of that marriage, just as a chaplain baptizing the child of a service member does not constitute the federal government endorsing the Christian sacrament of baptism. In fact, barring military chaplains from voluntarily officiating at same-sex marriage ceremonies would restrict the free exercise rights of those chaplains whose religious traditions celebrate such marriages."