Navy suspends policy to allow gay weddings

May 12, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Navy reversed course Tuesday (May 10) on plans
to allow chaplains to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies once the
military's ban on openly gay members is repealed.

Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, the Navy chief of chaplains, said in a brief
announcement to chaplains his previous memo about the repeal of the
Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy was "suspended until further notice."

The reversal follows opposition from Republican leaders and some
chaplains who argued that permitting gay weddings on bases in states
where same-sex marriage is legal violated the federal Defense of
Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

"It was suspended in order for us to thoroughly review the
associated legal and policy matters," said Cmdr. Danny Hernandez, a Navy
spokesman.

Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman, recently told the Navy Times
that "DOMA does not limit the type of religious ceremonies a chaplain
may perform in a chapel on a military installation."

On Wednesday, Lainez also said the policy is under review.

In his April 13 memo, Tidd said a chaplain "may officiate" at a
same-sex wedding if participation is "consistent with the tenets of his
or her religious organization."

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, who
opposes gays serving openly in the military, said the Navy's action
could be temporary and urged Congress to review Pentagon plans before a
full repeal.

"This weather-vane policy is likely to change back as soon as all
the branches of service get on board and Congress looks the other way,"
she said.