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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. BriSoFla

    Enough with the Jesus Agenda! The Christian Taliban dont like this because they just want SPECIAL RIGHTS from straight people only. NO SPECIAL RIGHTS! Equality for all! If you dont like it, MOVE TO IRAN!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  2. vtskivt

    This is what we get when we elect a bunch of lefty libs led by Obambam.... yup I can hear the lefties wailing about this post... I really don't care. Time to turn America around and restore sanity, and shut up the outspoken minority.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • kimsland

      The only time 'sanity' will come is when religion is thrown out of any law worldwide.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Stayxsie Johnson

      You are the minority on this.....so feel free to "shut-up"

      September 30, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • kimsland

      Stop being so angry Stayxsie Johnson
      I'm merely pointing out that all religions are a JOKE.
      Oh and thanks for loving me in this. Kiss Kiss

      September 30, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Dave, Massachusetts

      Then by all means shut up!

      September 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • A choice?

      So you want us to vote back in the party that dergulated the banking industry and allowed for a global meltdown of the economy? And Bachmann proposed a bill to stop the consumer protection act and regulation of the banking industry. So which of the brainchildren on the republican side do you think we should put back in? The baggage the republicans will carry is the same people who got us into this mess.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Dan, Tx

      Old fashioned thinking. Get with the program. God would not allow gays in the military if he didn't want them there. God works in mysterious ways, you should not think you are better than God by opposing God's will that gays be allowed in the military.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Ya No

      "Lefty Libs"? Brilliant. 'Restoring sanity' appears not to be your long suit.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  3. jmr

    I'll say it again. I'm gay. I just love to bash my fellow gay friends because it's fun. I can't wait to marry my life partner though. We have such a cute little house on the prairie. It'll be perfect for our little Jack Russell Terrier.

    I love Big Gay Al on South Park. He reminds me so much of myself that I think they based the character on me.

    Spread gay love everywhere.

    I'm 'jmr' and I approve this gay message.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Phil

      Wow - you sure changed your tune from 10 minutes ago... What happened?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • jmr

      hmm how hard was it to write jmr and be a copy cat? dont hate on my opinion, youre opressing my rights – hipocrite much?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Oppressing your rights?

      :facepalm:

      How is allowing gays the same rights as you "oppressing" your lifestyle? Seriously - please f___ing explain that.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      "youre opressing my rights"

      Lies lies and more lies.

      Isn't it really stressful to have that much hate in your heart?

      September 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  4. BriSoFla

    The Christian Taliban dont like this because they just want SPECIAL RIGHTS from straight people only. NO SPECIAL RIGHTS! Equality for all! If you dont like it, MOVE TO IRAN!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  5. J

    the problems of america are not the wars, the money or the president. The problem is SIN and now we have just helped to increase it and God will judge!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • kimsland

      Ha Ha Ha
      You're funny

      September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Stayxsie Johnson

      The problem with america is you and the chtistian Taliban.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Emmy Skaddittle

      Funny it sounds a lot like you are judging, Are you saying that you are god?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • I cant wait

      Until your god is completely dead. It's only a matter of time 🙂 People reading back on our civilization will wonder looke at you like we look at the people who prayed to nature and the sun (actually, the sun makes sense because it's actually real and gives life).

      September 30, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • DebNY

      So leave it to God and mind your own damn business. Amazing how excited people get about things that don't actually affect them.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Gretta

      You worry about your salvation and we will worry about ours. How about that? Does that sound good? I think it does. You just worry about you today and rest your little head about me.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Gayle P Junius

      AMEN TO THAT J.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  6. BriSoFla

    Equality FINALLY! I still dont see how this affects anyone else. The Christian Taliban dont like this because they just want SPECIAL RIGHTS from straight people only. NO SPECIAL RIGHTS! Equality for all! If you dont like it, MOVE TO IRAN!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Jerry

      Please turn your life over to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and the promise of eternal life.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Hey Jerry, go ahead and believe in fables spun by ancients. "Eternal life" is a concept found only in religion. As we head into the holiday season - Reason's Greetings.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Ed

      Oh Jerry – you can't turn your life over to a dead person.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  7. Deathstalker

    Sad day for America IMO.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • BRC

      A group of people gained equal rights, why is this a sad day?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • saw

      This is a good day for America... and the dream of ALL people being equal.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Goldie

      What a bright day leading to our future! The Department of Defense finally realized what they were fighting for – the rights of ALL people.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  8. jay sargos

    yes-
    pet human marriage is next- or maybe pets wearing uniforms in the military
    seal chihuahua 6

    September 30, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Seriously

      "pet human marriage is next- or maybe pets wearing uniforms in the military"

      Hey look more stupid stereotyping and lack of understanding on human seuality. Animals can consent moron. LMAO!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • jmr

      lol

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

      It amazes me when people don't recognize obvious sarcasm

      September 30, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  9. Woody

    America is supposed to be a free country ! Over population and global warming are problems . What people do in their bedroom is up to them . Opinions are like our back side and everyone has one . I have also found if you are short and bald everyone is looking for a fix for that one too ! Fact is gay people were here long before any religion and will be until the human mammal we all are no longer exist .

    September 30, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Donna

      I guess you settled the question, since you were there back then!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Jerry

      That is a sad comment. You think you are only an animal? No after life, no hope? Life is found in Jesus Christ, the light and hope of this dieing world. Please for your sake, seek Him. Jesus loves you and so does God the Father.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • mike in nv

      Yes, please learn to love Jesus, then you'll be able to hate the gays just like the real christians.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  10. Peyam

    Geez, what more do these religious freaks want? You don't have to perform the marriage if you don't believe in it and even if the chaplain believes in it, he/she can't perform it if it is against state law. But that is still not good enough for them! America definitely has its own taliban and it's the Christian right!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  11. jmr

    Bill Clinton was very smart for having this policy, all the groups claiming numbers of those that want to get out cause of gay and cost are ignorant, they used the gay card to get out for various reasons, with no card to pull means higher rates of bad discharges, also when some dude goes to the ER cause his but got blown out tax paying americans will foot the bill for his bennies, liberal BS at its finest

    September 30, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Seriously

      Hey more ignorance and stupidity from jmr who has shown from other posts they don't know the facts on this subject. You are such a moron because you formed your opinions on lies.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • saw

      So DADT was good because it gave people a way out of the military without hurting honorable discharge figure??? What are you saying man... you are just trolling because you have nothing better to do...

      September 30, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Goldie

      Bill Clinton was pushing for 100% openness in the military. It was the Republicans who created this law and Clinton signed it to save face from having recently played doctor in the Oval Office bathroom with cigars as a medical tool with Monica Lewinsky. The hypocrisy of his signing was not lost on anyone. Not even the Republicans.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  12. CoryJ

    Really, jmr, marriage is not that complicated. Marriage should be between consenting adults. That's it. Not a tough concept. Two human beings who are old enough and mentally capable of making an informed decision = consenting adults. The age and the standard for being mentally capable is set by each state. This whole thing about marrying a rock or dog is ridiculous. Imagine how you would feel if you were denied rights because of your DNA.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • jmr

      marriage is between two natural human producing beings, not to just give into your desire to have what you want in any way you want it, I support unions for benefits and rights, but keep your loud mouth crying butlovin pink wearing garbage out of my face, you were born a man and are such – fix your head

      September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Seriously

      "marriage is between two natural human producing beings"

      Duh – gays and lesbians have children moron. So if a couple can produce beings they can't get married then, so that means infertile couples and old people. LMAO – You are such an idiot.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  13. John Winfield

    This is good news for LGBT rights. Now we need to repeal the Destruction of Marriage Act (DOMA) and implement ENDA so that these men and women who offered to lay down their lives so that the people on this site can bash them can receive the freedom and honor they deserve.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  14. BriSoFla

    Equality FINALLY! I still dont see how this affects anyone else. The Christian Taliban dont like this because they just want SPECIAL RIGHTS from straight people only. NO SPECIAL RIGHTS! Equality for all! Dont like MOVE TO IRAN!

    September 30, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  15. philip

    you will answer to God

    September 30, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Zeus

      And you shall answer to me

      September 30, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • jwm

      what "god" would that be? God, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Ra...?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • BRC

      Multiple choice, true/false, match the letter to the number? I'm great at trivia. Hopefully no essay questions though, it would suck to be dead and have a hand cramp.

      What would "God" ask? Did I believe in him, no, he provided no real proof. Did I live a good life, yes, I feel that I did. If that answer is insufficient, tough.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • GOD

      No, it's cool. I'm actually into dudes too

      signed, GOD

      September 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Ed

      I'll answer to God as soon as he/she/it appears before me and asks a question.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Supporter of Repeal

    Will those service members be receiving benefits?

    September 30, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • jmr

      of course, and tax payers will pay for their health costs too

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

      Anyone serving in our Military deserves the benefits they earn... we don't pick and choose who. But THEY choose to serve and sacrifice on our behalf, remember that.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  17. GRS62

    So, all those who claim America is headed straight to Hell, feel free to leave the country before it happens. I spent more than 20 years protecting and defending your right to free speech and to practice ANY religion you chose. That's the America I believe in and when I'm able to marry my partner of 25 years I will do it wearing my uniform proudly.
    You're welcome.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • jmr

      with a rainbow ribbon?

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

      Thank you for your service. Also, congrats!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Peyam

      Rainbow ribbon? Why not? He can wear whatever the hell he wants because he is protecting and serving you and me, while you sit in the comfort and safety of your home.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Matt - Bethlehem, PA

      @ jmr

      How many failed marriages have you had so far? Why not let us have the opportunity to be as miserable as you are? Oh that's right, we may just succeed and be happy.

      September 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  18. Gerl

    ..

    September 30, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  19. dkamf31

    I served in the ARMY. I have two very good friends still serving, one happens to be in Iraq. Both are straight and very religious, but support open service and marriage. Who cares who you kiss, as long as you have my back when it counts and I will do the same for you. The reality is we may be slow to the table when moving into the 21st Century with touchy issues, but we want to be sure to get it right. Notice the politicians didn't write the rules, the military leaders did, leaving me to believe it will be a positive transition.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • saw

      I absolutely agree.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      @jmr – fortunately our Consti.tution trumps what you want. The law of the land will win out over bigotry eventually – it always does.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Peyam

      Really jmr? You don't want it around you? Well you can move to Iran, I heard they don't have any gays there according to their leader. Do you look good in a turban?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  20. negative nancy's

    if you dont like this, (and in the same context as what conservatives said to liberals when they were in power), leave the country then. if you dont like it, then leave, no one could care less if you emigrated. perhaps iran, where their leader is more in-line with your point of view. no excuses just go, theirs the door....

    September 30, 2011 at 11:34 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.