Vol. 10, No. 5 email@example.com www.thespiritualherald.org May 2011 © 2011 Eastern Tsalagi Publishing Co.
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Navy Chaplains Scramble to Reverse Gay Marriage Stand
By Ellen Shapiro
WASHINGTON--The Navy’s decision to allow same-sex marriages to be performed has been stopped in its tracks by irate Congress members who protested the decision to the Navy secretary as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Chaplains are now actively trying to get the word out about the reversal caused by the congressional uproar.
In a show of power, more than 60 members of Congress wrote to the Navy secretary to protest the new policy that said gay marriages could be performed under certain conditions.
After the letter from Congress, Rear Admiral Mark Tidd, chief of the Navy chaplains, reversed his decision in a major embarrassment.
“The earlier decision has been suspended until further notice pending additional legal and policy review,” Tidd said in a one-sentence statement.
The bombshell came after House members wrote to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus saying, “We find it unconscionable that the United States Navy, a federal entity sworn to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States, believes it is their place alone to train and direct service members to violate federal law.”
The Congress members, many of them members of the tea party caucus, say the Constitution defines marriage as between only one man and one woman.
The Navy’s decision triggered a furor, especially since the Army and Air Force have not adopted similar guidelines.
Under the Navy’s original ruling, same-sex marriages would be allowed at military facilities such as chapel and catering centers, but only in those states that already recognizes such marriages as legal.
Pentagon guidelines said that chaplains and other key military leaders were among the first tier of service members to be trained about the new law repealing the military’s ban on openly gay members.
Military officials said the Navy’s decision to allow such civil marriages was because the Defense of Marriage Act does not specifically restrict gay marriage ceremonies, and the Navy decided to allow civil unions.
In February, President Obama had said the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, which prompted the Navy to reconsider its ban on same-sex marriages.
Even if the same-sex marriage ceremony was ruled legal, the partners would not get any military health, housing or other benefits enjoyed by husbands and wives, say military officials.
Much of the information about same-sex marriage guidelines have already been sent out to all the fleets and bases, but the Navy is worried about not getting the message out fast enough to all the chaplains worldwide.
“We don’t want any of these ceremonies to go forward by folks who did not receive the word about the reversal,” said a Navy spokesman in Washington.