By Melanie Nathan, June 09, 2012
NEW ORLEANS In no great surprise two Republican congressmen denounced a same-sex commitment ceremony held at the Army’s Fort Polk training base in Louisiana, asserting that it violated Defense Department policy. Following last year’s repeal of its “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the Defense Department said chaplains at military installations can officiate any private ceremony, as long as it’s not prohibited by state and local laws. Louisiana law does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions, but it also does not ban marriages or ceremonies at Military Installations.
Fort Polk spokesman Scott Stearns said the lesbians took part in a commitment ceremony last month. Everyone at the base chapel understood it was not a marriage ceremony, he said.
U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said in a statement the “marriage-like” ceremony performed by an Army chaplain shouldn’t have been allowed on the base. U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. in a statement without legal merit, claims the ceremony violated Defense Department policy. It may be on his wish list but he has yet to succeed in thwarting such ceremonies. Akin had sponsored a measure approved by the House last year that sought to prohibit military installations from being used to “officiate, solemnize or perform a marriage or marriage-like ceremony involving anything other than the union of one man with one woman.” The Senate didn’t approve the legislation.
“This appears to be a case where political agenda has trumped the rule of law, which is absolutely unacceptable,” Akin said in a statement. A spokesman for Fleming said the congressman’s office learned of the ceremony from “constituent contact.”
“The liberal social experiment with our military continues,” Fleming said. “My frustration is compounded by the fact that a social agenda, which has nothing to do with military readiness or our national defense, is being imposed on our men and women in uniform.”
The Family Research Council also blasted the ceremony. “This ceremony evades the intention and violates the spirit of the Defense of Marriage Act which remains the law in America, defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman for all purposes under federal law,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post.
Fort Polk spokesman Scott Stearns said the two women took part in a commitment ceremony last month. Everyone at the base chapel understood it was not a marriage ceremony, he said.
The ceremony was conducted about three weeks ago by a chaplain for the Disciples of Christ, according to Ron Crews, executive director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
“It was kept quiet,” Crews told Fox News Radio. He said the service was conducted in the military chapel, under the authorization of the chaplain’s denomination.
So if the same-sex ceremony was approved by the military – why the outrage?
“It raises the issue that Louisiana is a state that has a clear definition of marriage,” Crews said. “By allowing this on military installations, this means that chaplains in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq could conduct same sex ceremonies like this. How will this look to our coalition partners who do not approve of same sex unions?”
Last September, The Blaze covered the Pentagon’s decision to allow gay marriages by military chaplains both inside and outside of chapels. While chaplains are not required to marry same-sex couples, the new regulations opened up the right for such actions to take place, should faith leaders so choose. Still, despite this proclamation, conservative leaders are infuriated by the decision to allow these weddings to take place.
GAY U.S.A. in New Orleans
Come to Cafe Lafitte’s in Exile and meet filmmaker Kristina Lapinski of Gay U.S.A. the Movie for drinks and discussion with local co-hosts Jacob Stroman and Michael Zeininger. https://www.facebook.com/events/378009628922535/permalink/379797642077067/?notif_t=like
Gay U.S.A. exposes the fundamentalist right wing that has infiltrated American politics and denies the gay community rights, and highlights the fight of activists and citizens across the country fighting for equality. Check out the film at www.gayusathemovie.com/about . Can’t come?
and http://www.wtsp.com/news/article/258443/81/Same-sex-ceremony-on-Louisiana-military-base-stirs-controversy and http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20120606/NEWS01/120606032/Lawmakers-denounce-Fort-Polk-same-sex-ceremony