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September 30th, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages

By Charley Keyes, CNN Senior National Security Producer

Washington (CNN) - Ten days after the military dumped its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians, the Pentagon has issued new rules allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages, but only if allowed by law and the chaplain's beliefs.

"A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law," a memo released Friday says.

"Further a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion."

The new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military went into force September 20. In May, before the end of "don't ask, don't tell," the Navy was forced into an embarrassing about-face when if first OK'd and then changed its mind on marriages on military bases.

The new military rules on marriages must be in line with the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and local laws.

The latest two-paragraph memo, from Under Secretary of Defense Clifford Stanley, carefully stops short of fully embracing the idea of same-sex marriage, saying that "a military chaplain's participation in a private ceremony does not constitute an endorsement of the ceremony by DoD" (the Department of Defense).

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Military • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,195 Responses)
  1. noteabags

    Progress.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Lips

      Five years ago a man in India (who has abused animals and became disabled) married a female dog because his family thought it would break a curse. It's interesting that no conservatives and PETA were protesting and writing to our congress to condemn India for allowing ceremonies and legalizing marriages between humans and canines. The Bush administration did not even propose trade embargos (especially to stop outsourcing of U.S. jobs) on that nation.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Seriously

      "sure, and I cant wait to fight to be able to marry my dog"

      Keep showing your ignorance animals can consent moron.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • David, CA

      jmr- I think your dog can find better and certainly smarter than you.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • 7yearsandrunning

      @JMR- I can't wait till you can marry your dog too as that's the only female you are likely to attract.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  2. Tom

    As in Charlie Chaplain !!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • jmr

      thatd be chaplin

      September 30, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  3. PHIL

    America is one step closer to getting it right...

    September 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Clay

      Amen. Now if only we could shut up the ones who keep twisting Christianity to justify their prejudices for good...

      September 30, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • JJ

      No thanks to the conservative right.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Here is a Thought

      Now only if I can marry my sister legally...now thats equality.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Chuck

      I applaud the gay men and women who served in silence for so long. This shouldn't happen in America and yet there is still one political party who would change the rules back tomorrow if given the chance and the ability.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  4. Kevin O.

    Well I guess Bruce (a 10 year veteran of the Army) and I (a retired veteran of the Army) are going to go get married now ^^ All you haters can suck it. ^^

    September 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • David, CA

      Cheers to the happy couple 😉

      September 30, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • tommy

      woo hoo yeah, wish you a lifetime of gayness (happiness) 🙂

      September 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Robert

      Good luck to you, however, don't expect the benefits. The article is misleading... military member s can call themselves married, but you will NOT be a dependent.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  5. Boytjie

    Unfortunately this is a case where being free doesn't always equate to being smart. Gee I can see so much fraud with this, two guys marrying just to get off base housing. Yeah let the floodgates open for the loopholes here.
    ==========================================
    And no man+woman marriages were ever based on fraud... riiiiight.

    Ever see the movie Green Card?

    September 30, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Cara

      Young heteroseuxal Texans charge $2,000 to $5,000 to marry immigrants who are here legally but not yet citizens. They have to perform fake weddings and show the pictures to the proper authorities. There is a famous styrofoam cake that makes the rounds at these parties.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Zach Canada

      because that same scenario couldn't possibly be played out between a man and a woman both in the military.. sheesh THINK BEFORE YOU TYPE!

      September 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  6. Richard

    This is good! Gay soldiers should have the same rights as everyone else whome they help to defend! Finally, a right move by the DoD. Thank You!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  7. mac

    Ok, fine let gay military get married, when they get a military divorce, they will be as broke as the straight military getting divorces. To top that, adultery is a common thing with the gay community, I see allot of court marshals

    September 30, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Richard

      Adultry is common in the USA .. period. I know many gay men and women in long term monogamous, committed relationships.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Regina

      Adultery would suggest that you are already legally married and the majority of gay Americans aren't able to marry, so this statement is silly beyond belief.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Spud

      Generalizations and stereotypes are so much fun.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • 7yearsandrunning

      I am gay and have been in a monogamous relationship for over 7 years now. Adultery happens in both gay and straight relationships, however, they gay community is much more prone and honest to own up to it when it happens.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  8. bachmanntwit

    FACT #1 Michele Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann, is gay.
    FACT #2 He tried and he tried and he tried, but he couldn't pray away his own gay.
    FACT #3 Michele Bachmann has never seen her husband naked.
    FACT #4 Marcus Bachmann shouldn't be bashing gays with that falsetto voice of his.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Obama joe

      So what ? A gay could be a wise good leader too.It's not gay,it's how business will be done in name of gay,,,,,,,,,,

      September 30, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Obama joe

      and how politics plays gay game,,,,,,,,,

      September 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Jackzinta

      Typical gay nastiness. You don't know any of these as facts. You are doing what all gay men do when they are angry: turning into a vicious queen. Take your trashy mouth back to the seedy bar you get drunk in.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  9. Charles

    I assume it'll be okay to marry my sister soon?

    September 30, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Regina

      Make yourself happy!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • c-bag

      I bet you've been waiting a long time to do it, too.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Andy

      Umm, no...and gay people can't marry their sister, either...

      September 30, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Obama joe

      Then you can give her money as" not a gift",,, 🙂

      September 30, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Richard

      Why buy the cow when you are probably getting the milk for free?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Brian D

      I think soon we will be able to marry our pet goldfish.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Obama joe

      Come on ,,,when you pay TAX with a married sister,you may take advantage of being couple,,,,,not mention the car insurance,,,,,,,,,

      September 30, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Boytjie

      As if she would even marry you LOL

      September 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Obama joe

      imagination and hallucination

      September 30, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • David, CA

      Charles- I think your sister can do better.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • tekstep1

      Yes Charles, you can finally marry your sister! I know youv'e been getting the milk for free for some time now...

      September 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Patrick

      I see Charles took his hate, ignorance and stupid pills this morning. You're dumb!

      September 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  10. mac

    Ok,for those who are acting vengeful, and hateful toward the service members who serve with gays in the military, not all of us are against the idea. Let them go through a military divorce, and the heartaches the straight couples have, its not a very pretty thought, losing everything, and still have to pay the ex spouse so much support it leaves u broke.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  11. Pretty Gay Guy

    Gays rule the World? I feel sooo pretty.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Obama joe

      Rich gays pay less TAX,,,,,,,,,,good for somebody,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      September 30, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  12. Yodude

    Marriage is just a word. All of the rights that go with that word as a Civil Union are key. I can call myself married under the church of the spaghetti monster in the sky and there's not much you can do about it in a free country.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Paul

      Yes, but your rights disappear as soon as you cross into a state that doesn't recognize your union. You lose many legal rights in a civil union that are not questioned with a marriage. Look it up.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  13. Obama joe

    Mark my words, one day rich parents can marry their kids to pay less inheritance TAX in this country.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • David

      We all just "marked your words" with a giant black magic marker. Now they are gone.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Obama joe

      What ? Are you really that serious ? 🙂

      September 30, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • rATL

      Or maybe we could fix the tax code so it's fair to all and then people wouldn't need to find/create loopholes.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Obama joe

      not possible,if only Jesus come back,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      September 30, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Brian

      Is anything you wrote based on fact or simply fear-mongering insanity?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Obama joe

      feel the trends,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and feel the why ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      September 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  14. Charlie

    Let me see if I have this straight (pun intended)? We (the taxpayers) are paying the salarys of military chaplains so they can perform gay marriages.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • HellBent

      If laws allow it. So yes, the taxpayers will pay chaplains to perform marriages that are legal. Why would this possibly be a problem?

      September 30, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Daphne

      Your main problem should be with taxpayer money going into the hands of chaplains.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • KJM1968

      Yes, just like we taxpayers pay for them to perfom straight marriages.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Guy

      I agree ... We should not be paying for ANY religious services. There should be no chaplains in the military.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Michael

      Wow, this is news to me because I could have sworn gay people pay taxes too.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Paul

      So you feel it's OK for taxpayers to pay for straight marriages, but not if them thar faygits want to get hitched? Even hillbillies think that's a stupid thing to say.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • BRC

      The nation pays for Chaplains because those Chaplains support the soldiers, wether they are straight or other. If the entirety of the armed forces said "we don't need them anymore" they would do away with the Chaplain corpse, but for now they really do help the American service members, so there is a justification for the funding.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  15. Lol

    Funny story...I am a Marine wife and the man who cuts my hair once told me he wished he could be a Marine wife, too. Guess now he can!

    September 30, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  16. Big Bushy Mustache

    The entire gay marriage issue is just a way for the GOP to motivate the GOP base and not pay attention to the fact that the GOP has no viable candidate for President and has not ideas for the economy other than protecting the rich.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Tina

      Wow! The rest of the world thought it was about civil and human rights for gay Americans who have to wrestle these rights away from the conservative Christian right. These Christians hold their families so dear, but would actively stop other Americans from receiving the same happiness. That is a sickness.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  17. kimsland

    Ah huh.
    So a nothing story hey?
    Yes very entertaining!

    September 30, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Tex

      A military chaplain may participate, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by dumb_ss laws or dumb_ss religion created by dumb_sses with dumb_ss agendas to thwart the lives of these red-blooded American citizens.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Mike in SA

      To Tex – Or dumb_ss's named Tex?

      September 30, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Daphne

      Mike in SA It is dumb_sses, not dumb_ss's.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Tex

      Thank you Daphne!

      September 30, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  18. Sonny

    Many of USA's allies have been legalizing gay for many years already. You American people are slow and have no human rights. Shame on you. I am glad that I live in Canada.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • J

      You really shouldn't judge an entire nation based on a very vocal and misguided few, by that logic I can say that all Canadians are ignorant of societies in other countries based solely on your post. As a member of the U.S Army (who happens to be straight and married), I think it's absolutely fantastic that these men and women are finally able to be open about who they are, and that the military is becoming increasingly accepting of it.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • SteveR

      We are as well!

      September 30, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • HellBent

      Don't hate too much. It's like the Catholic Church – we're likely to get it right .... eventually

      September 30, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • me

      I'm glad you live in Canada too.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Proud American

      Yeah, then stay there. We don't like whiners in America. Stay in Canada, please. We don't want you. Yeah.

      Stupid.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Canadian

      I'm a Canadian and I think Sonny is wrong. Americans are awesome, and he shouldn't collectively bash them like that. Shame on you, Sonny.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • gnodges

      C'mon, don't stereotype ALL Americans in one broad statement.......that's like saying ALL Canadians are hosers, and we all know that only MOST Canadians are Hosers, and the rest are Lumberjacks.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Mike in SA

      I'm glad you live in Canada too.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • DamianKnight

      Pretty big talk from a country who can't pass a law without getting the Queen of England's permission.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • The Dude

      Yeah, well.......that's just like your opinion man!

      September 30, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • DudeInTO

      My HUSBAND and I moved to Canada for that very purpose, for marriage equality. The USA needs to grow a pair and separate church and state. Canada got the French, USA got the puritans. Go figure.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • mike in nv

      Don't hate too much. It's like the Catholic Church – we're likely to get it right .... eventually

      --

      I've seen the schedule at the Vatican. They're going to begin researching if being gay is okay on June 1, 2635.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  19. Begrudging

    Hey lets give them their rights but only through grinding teeth and growls....Because we don't like those brave marriage destroyers we just have to uhh respect them for their service...Even though we are hateful, spiteful, selfish , fat, people... Sorry i felt the need to get ahead of this before any republicans showed up.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  20. Saywhat

    Hope it goes to court...Federal law overrides state laws.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Robert

      It's already in the courts from other cases, hopefully headed to the supreme court and gays are winning! Semper Fi! oorah!

      September 30, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Michael

      Um, if you haven't noticed the LGBT community wins every time the issue goes before the courts

      September 30, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Marine

      @Robert, You are a disgrace to my Marine-corps. You know dam well most people keep their mouths shut because fighting
      politicians as a servicemen is a bad career move. Don't worry though when you mess up and someone dies you wont be able to out your self and leave. Then we will see how happy you failures are.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.