Navy OKs Same-Sex Marriages on Naval Bases

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 11, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As part of the military's transition away from "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," plans are in the works to permit naval chaplains and facilities to be used to conduct same-sex marriages.

Though it was expected, some members of Congress are not amused with the upcoming change, arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act bars Naval facilities from being used to conduct same-sex marriages.

The Navy's Chief of Chaplains has stated that chaplains may officiate same-sex weddings and civil unions if state law and their religion permit it, reports CNN. He further stated that base facilities are to be "sexual orientation-neutral."

Because of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal, things are changing in the Navy--same-sex relationships are no longer going to occur behind the scenes. However, that doesn't mean that Naval chaplains can suddenly perform marriages.

Even though the Obama Administration is choosing not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the fact is that it still applies. This means that the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages, and by extension, any of those marriages performed by a member of the Navy.

Same-sex marriages are also arguably prevented by DOMA from taking place on federal property and with the services of federal employees.

Or at least that's what opposing members of Congress believe, according to CNN.

Pentagon officials disagree, reports the news outlet. They have stated that, while DOMA does prevent recognition of spousal benefits, it does not impact the type of religious ceremonies performed on a military base.

So, who's legally right in the Navy/same-sex marriage debate? It's impossible to tell, so we'll just have to wait and see.

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