US Navy approves gay weddings on bases

Reuters
Wednesday 11 May 2011 00:00
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The US Navy has authorised its chaplains to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies on military bases once the ban on gays in the military is lifted, but some members of Congress argue the authorisation violates another federal law.

A memo on 13 April from the chief of Navy chaplains concerning training revisions said: "If the base is located in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, then base facilities may normally be used to celebrate the marriage."

"There's been no change in policy – the only change that occurred was in training," Lieutenant Alana Garas, a Navy spokeswoman, said. She added that current policy remained in place until the eventual end of the "Don't ask, don't tell" practice. The 17-year-old ban on gays in the armed forces was repealed in December. But the policy remains in effect while new rules are being developed.

Representative Todd Akin, chairman of a US House subcommittee that oversees Navy and Marine Corps programmes, said the new Navy guidance violates a federal law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

"While a state may legalise same-sex marriage, federal property and federal employees, like Navy chaplains, should not be used to perform marriages that are not recognised by federal law," said Mr Akin, a Missouri Republican.

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