"Opponents of equal rights for LGBT people scored a temporary victory yesterday when they successfully pressured the Navy to suspend plans to allow chaplains to perform marriages for same-sex couples, when allowed by state law, in military chapels. Gay and lesbian tax dollars sustain the salaries of military chaplains and the upkeep of military chapels, but the politics of the moment overwhelmed the Navy's assessment of its own best interests.
The head chaplain of the U.S. Navy told his clergy in a memo that same-sex weddings will be allowed to be performed on naval bases.
An April 13 memo from Adm. Mark Tidd gave chaplains the green light to marry homosexual couples or perform civil-union ceremonies at Navy installations once the ban on homosexuals in the military is lifted.
"Consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization, a chaplain may officiate a same-sex, civil marriage: if it is conducted in accordance with a state that permits same-sex marriage or union," said the memo.
The Navy Times reported Tuesday the only caveat is the chaplain must be authorized to conduct wedding ceremonies by the state where the knot is being tied.
A Navy spokeswoman told the Times chaplains will not be obligated to marry gay couples if it conflicts with their particular faith.
Some conservatives, however, contended Tidd's memo clashed with the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which limits nuptials to heterosexual couples.
"While a state may legalize same-sex marriage, federal property and federal employees, like Navy chaplains, should not be used to perform marriages that are not recognized by federal law," said Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services sea power subcommittee.