Navy officials have suspended recent guidance that would have allowed chaplains to perform weddings for same-sex couples at on-base facilities.
In an April 13 memo on “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal training, Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains (pictured), 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[.]” Chaplains could elect to officiate should a ceremony be “consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization.”
But Tidd reversed course late Tuesday, writing that his guidance is suspended pending “additional legal and policy review and inter-Departmental coordination.”
Tidd’s about-face comes after outcry in recent days from a group of Republican lawmakers who want to bar same-sex weddings at base facilities, as well as religious conservative groups that have long railed against any change in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, wrote in a Tuesday blog post that Tidd’s guidance was an affront to the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of gay marriages.
“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,” Perkins wrote.
Rep. Todd Akin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is expected to offer an amendment Wednesday to the National Defense Authorization Act that would bar marriage ceremonies for gay couples at base facilities — whether or not they are located in states, such as Connecticut, that have full marriage equality.
Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, issued the following statement on Wednesday:
"At a time when the economy still needs attention, Osama Bin Laden was just killed, and revolution and conflict continue to rage across a fragile Middle East, having lawmakers spend valuable and limited time on whether a few gay couples may or may not use a Navy facility for a private ceremony at some point in the future is just plain silly,” Nicholson said. “The Navy was certainly within its right to establish this policy, and the services should not be subjected to distracting pressure from reactionaries simply because they seek to treat all personnel equally and fairly."
The House Armed Services Committee's markup of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act can be viewed via livestream here.