House Passes ‘Gays Can’t Marry on Military Bases’ Amendment


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.

Reports Politico:

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.

As Aubrey Sarvis, director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, highlights:

“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.


Related Reading:

Lawmaker Aims to Resurrect DADT in Oklahoma
Gay Soldier Comes Out to Dad to Mark DADT’s End (VIDEO)
Groups Advise Trans Servicemembers Ahead of DADT Repeal

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to the US Army Photostream.


Ivy Taylor
Yvonne Taylor5 years ago

The House consists of bigots, and an agenda of hatred. Their only goal is to win the election, they do not care about the elderly, children, women's rights, freedom of religion, anyone's health, the environment, wildlife, diversity, science or schooling that does not include their brand of hate religion, correct history, our constitution the poor, and on and on. They do care about their pocket books, backing countries with civil rights violations, outsourcing jobs, big oil, big Ag and other corporations that harm our society and health, saying no to anything that will help our country, So why should this latest vote surprise anyone? VOTE THEM OUT!

Emilia M.
Emilia M5 years ago

That is terrible!!!

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

unconstitutional discrimination

Chris Cole
Chris C5 years ago

Sarah H - got any FACTS to support that BS you're spewing?

Margaret S.

Can a "straight" couple marry on the military base? If so, what's the problem with marrying a gay couple? Bo(eh)ner has no brains, and he must have spread the disease to the rest of the right wingunt "hate is a family value" goppers. I had no idea stupidity was contagious, but it appears it not only is, but it spreads like wildfire. Bo(eh)ner, give it up, stupid. Go take your meds, or go to your doctor to get a prozac prescription, because your schizophrenia/paranoia is acting up again. Oh, and take Cantor with you. Maybe you will marry him on the way from the pharmacy. Man, that would be a match made in hell...

Betsy M.
Betsy M5 years ago

@Kathy M. et al The case of US military chaplains is different. They are not independent religious, but hired, given rank and paid by the US government. They take an oath to serve all military personnel. A muslim imam who chooses to accept commission in the US military would provice Last Rites to a Catholic soldier if no priest was available, etc.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

Obama has been doing a lot of this lately... for political reasons.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown5 years ago

Sandra-Excellent post, take a green star out of petty cash, my treat!

Sandra L.
Sandra L5 years ago

There seems to be much emphasis on the word itself, marriage. Years (and years) ago I trained for and worked as a wine steward for a summer, and we learned what wines 'married' well with what foods. I took that marriage reference to mean which of those came together to create the most harmonious and pleasing relationship. Around that time I saw with fresh adult eyes my parents marriage, with it's infidelity, disrespect and little harmony or pleasure from what I could see. I appreciate having learned how to make a good dinner pairing, but was left with little faith in marriage itself. So, what is really in a word, and just who does in fact own the rights?

Karen Howard
Karen H5 years ago

I wonder what would happen if no LGBT served in the military. Would the GOP feel the country wasn't being protected?