The U.S. House this week passed an amendment to the 2013 defense funding bill that would outlaw military chaplains from conducting same-sex marriages on military bases and using military facilities.
NOM associate Rep. Steve King introduced the amendment while taking a swipe at President Obama, accusing him of “contravening” the Defense of Marriage Act.
King said a directive from the Secretary of Defense that said “a military chaplain may officiate any private ceremony on or off a military installation” was “not just permission that’s implied encouragement to conduct same-sex marriages on our military bases conducted by our chaplains presumably who are all under the payroll of the U.S. government.”
Military chaplains may decide to not perform same-sex marriages but King said any chaplain that did so was violating DOMA as the law of the land. The amendment would mean a full ban.
“The Defense of Marriage Act means this: Marriage means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. And the word ‘spouse’ only refers to a member of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. Pretty simple statute being contravened by the president of the United States as exercised through the Secretary of Defense,” he said. “This amendment prohibits the use of military facilities or the pay of military chaplains for being used to contravene the defense of marriage act.”
You can watch a video of Rep King’s testimony below:
The US House passed a similar amendment last year, apparently blind to the irony that, while crowing about religious freedom, they were taking away the religious freedom for gay equality-affirming chaplains to marry same-sex couples.
Rep. King has previously said he doesn’t understand why gay people need employment protections, advancing that if LGBTs didn’t disclose their sexuality or gender identity, there would be no problem.
It may be interesting to note that because the amendment’s language specifies military funds cannot be appropriated for the purpose of same-sex marriages–something that isn’t directly happening anyway–the amendment likely has no teeth.
“This language put forth by Congressman King would do nothing new. No funds can ever be spent in contravention of federal law. With this amendment, the Congressman is wasting Congress’ time and energy by restating current law in an attempt to infringe upon the rights of chaplains to practice their own faith and relegate gay and lesbian service members to second-class status by restricting their use of military facilities,” said Sarvis.
“Clearly, Congressman King doesn’t understand what the Defense of Marriage Act actually does. It does not prohibit a chaplain from performing a same-sex ceremony that is consistent with the tenets of his or her faith, and it does not prevent the use of military facilities for private religious ceremonies. If the Congressman wants a debate about the inequalities thrust upon America’s gay and lesbian service members by DOMA, let’s have that debate. But perhaps, he should first undertake a review of the law and come to the debate prepared,” said Sarvis.
The defense appropriations bill will, in due course, have to be reconciled with a Senate version. The Senate is expected to jettison the amendment, as it has done on previous occasions when faced with similar amendments.