Republican Senators claim ban on same-sex unions on military premises is to protect the freedom of religion of chaplains
Two US Senators have introduced legislation to ban same-sex unions from being held on military bases.
Senator Roger Wicker (Republican Mississippi) and Senator Jim Inhofe (Republican Oklahoma), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the Military Religious Freedom Act on Tuesday (11 September).
It explicitly outlines how the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) should be applied to the Department of Defense.
The bill would prohibit marriage or marriage-like ceremonies at military facilities that are not a union between one man and one woman and prevent military chaplains from being forced to perform a marriage ceremony if the chaplain objection was for reasons of conscience.
Inhofe stated: ‘President Obama and his administration are dismissing their responsibility to uphold the law of the land by unilaterally deeming DOMA unworthy of enforcement.
‘At the same time, since the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, they have begun to pressure military chaplains to fall in line with their liberal same-sex marriage agenda.
‘This bill protects military chaplains from being forced to go against their conscience and religious beliefs in regard to this issue. This is something the chaplains that serve this country need and deserve.’
Wicker added: ‘The Defense of Marriage Act remains law, and as policy changes are implemented by the Department of Defense, the statute must be followed.
‘This legislation also protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains who are serving our nation in the Armed Forces.’
The Department of Defense last year had authorized military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages in accordance with state law that would allow them to participate in ceremonies on or off military bases in states that recognize same-sex marriage.
The Department of Justice stopped defending DOMA in federal court actions after a determination by both US Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama.
But last spring congressional GOP leaders, angered by what they labeled as a blatant disregard for prescribed constitutional duties by the administration, replaced the Justice Department lawyers with a team of private lawyers paid by the US House of Representatives to continue to defend the statue in federal court actions.
The first public same-sex civil union was performed at the US Joint Base McGuire-Dix, located near Lakehurst, New Jersey in June.