Military's Gay Wedding Rule 'Seems to Ignore' Federal Law

By Benjamin Mann

-- The head of the U.S. Military Archdiocese says that a new set of rules, allowing chaplains to perform same-sex “marriages” on military property, seems to disregard federal law.

“The Pentagon’s new policy, as outlined in these two memos, appears to ignore the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law 15 years ago and remains in effect,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio in a Sept. 30 statement provided to CNA.

The archbishop's comments came in response to a pair of memos issued on Sept. 30, just 10 days after the official end of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy against open homosexuality.

In one of the memos, Defense Department Undersecretary Clifford Stanley states that “a military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law.”

Both Stanley's memo, and a separate document issued by Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson, sought to distance the department itself from a controversial use of its personnel and facilities.

“Private functions are not official activities of the Department of Defense. Thus, the act of making DoD facilities available for private functions, including religious and other activities, does not constitute an endorsement of the activities by DoD,” Johnson wrote.

Similarly, Stanley stated that “a military chaplain's participation in a private ceremony does not constitute an endorsement of the ceremony by DoD.”

Archbishop Broglio, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the apparent attempt to sidestep the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage in federal law as the union of a man and a woman.

“Undersecretary Stanley cannot say, on the one hand, that chaplains may take part in any private ceremony as long as it is 'not prohibited by applicable state and local law,' and on the other, say nothing of the federal law,” said Archbishop Broglio.

“Nor can DOD’s general counsel say that determinations regarding use of military facilities should be made on a 'sexual-orientation neutral basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws' while neglecting to take DOMA into account.”

Archbishop Broglio said the use of military bases and personnel, for an activity regarded as invalid both by federal law and that of 44 states, would serve to “undermine the will of the American people,” even if performed only in states in which legislators or judges have redefined marriage.

“It cannot be forgotten that the 1996 enactment of DOMA was due to the efforts of a substantial, bi-partisan majority in Congress and to then-President Clinton,” the military archbishop recalled. “As a nation, we walk down a dangerous path when appointed officials are allowed to thwart the will of the people.”

“The women and men I am privileged to serve place their lives on the line every day to defend the Country whose government is of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he stated. “Let us pray that the millions who have died to ensure those liberties did not die in vain.”

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