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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. mac

    Kevin O. Just to let u know about the "get off your civilian ass and serve" comment, I have been serving for over 21 years! So get off your wagon!

    September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Ryan R

      You've wasted 21 years of your life servering a country that does not care about u ... GOOD JOB SMART GUY

      September 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Matt - Bethlehem, PA

      @ Ryan....are you that hateful or just an idiot? Anyone who is in the military believes in their country, honors it and defends it. you should be ashamed of yourself while you tearing down someone who is out their risking their lives for what they believe in.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  2. Who's ur daddy

    Simple rule to live by the 3 f's: u have nothing to say unless u are f'ing me, feeding me or financing me. Live by it and u might be a happier person. I see people worrying about other people personal life get over it u can't change that.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • DUH

      Our conversation is none of them, it's about the butt & why jamming something up in there after you take a dump is a bad thing..

      September 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  3. ocho

    Soooo glad I'm out. So done with the military....where most soldiers live the most sinful morally depravitive lifestyles....and the military encourages the additude. Being gay is a sin...is it worse then any other sin? No, but it is sort of like the icing on the cake....as far as moral degradation goes.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • DUH

      "where most soldiers live the most sinful morally depravitive lifestyles.."

      Hey look more stupidity not based on any facts.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Robert

      I'm guessing it's more because you couldn't read the promotion exams...

      September 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • DUH

      I like solid objects up my bungy hole, why is this a sin? I can practically fist my self when George isnt around.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • stejo

      Well, they do kill people for a living. I believe that violates one of the 10 big ones, unlike your gay thing.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Just wow

    This world is becoming stupid every day. Gays should never be allowed to have kids or get married period. Society is changing to a more ludicrous way of living. Also, I totally agree with the comment Earl made.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Edwin

      At least we agree on your first sentence. So many people so obsessed with who sleeps with whom...

      The military needs capable soldiers. If gays are capable of serving, of potentially giving their lives to keep our country safe, who do you want to do it instead? Are you PERSONALLY VOLUNTEERING to do the work of the gay soldier you want out of the military?

      I thought not. So shut up and be grateful they're willing to die for you.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  5. TXstar

    May God have mercy on this country's souls – we sure need it.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  6. CrazyTimes

    Why do gays try to compare their "struggle" to african americans? Africans were mistreated because of the color of their skin. Gays are ridiculed for their lifestyle choices. No comparison here.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • DUH

      Keep showing your stupidity on this subject, it's about civil rights moron.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • CrazyTimes

      Civil rights? So I should have the right to have a relationship with anyone (or anything) because it is my civil right?
      That's so bahhhahhhahhaaddd..

      September 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • DUH

      Probably was a gay white who wants some big blackk we we in butt after he takes a big dump.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • DUH

      "Probably was a gay white who wants some big blackk we we in butt after he takes a big dump."

      Hey look more stupidity not based on any facts but sure shows the ignorance of this poster.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • milob

      Gays are discriminated against because of the $exual orientation, not their lifestlye choices.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  7. USMarineGuy

    Nature NOT GOD did not intend for any life to be gay...FACT. So if you are, in fact, born gay you are a deviation from Nature's intention. Other deviations from Nature's intention are Autism, Down Syndrome, should i go on?

    September 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • CrazyTimes

      But these nutjobs try to adopt kids and really mess them up...

      September 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • DUH

      "But these nutjobs try to adopt kids and really mess them up..."

      Hey look more stupidity not based on fact. The experts at the APA disagree you. LMAO!

      September 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • USMarineGuy

      Well, if they are in fact born that way then adopting a child not "born that way" shouldn't be of anyone's concern. I say let them adopt. I also say let them park in handicap parking spots and rate social security. that's what they should be fighting for. Instead, they push to have the military accept people that clearly have mental issues into the military. I'll wait for the comparisons to how being black was once considered degenerative and other nonesense...none of which is deviation from nature. And by deviation, I mean in a purely Darwinian POV where nature selects the fittest to continue the species. If you are born gay, nature had no intention of you reproducing, thus rendering you...well, useless.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Edwin

      USMarine:

      Do you then advocate sterilization of gays, people with Down's, etc.? Otherwise you'd let them breed. And let's be honest: gay couples can produce children as easily as many straight couples - it isn't hard to figure out how.

      While we're on the subject, do you consider straight couples with an inability to produce children against Nature, too? I would guess there are MILLIONS of couples who would have trouble conceiving without some medical help. Add the number who would have died as kids without medicines, and you probably have 25% of the country who owe their ability to reproduce to medical science.

      Since 25% (more or less) of straight people could not reproduce without medical help, why do you single out gays and lesbians who likewise need medical help to reproduce? Your argument is flawed. It SOUNDS REASONABLE but is not, in fact, sound.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • USMarineGuy

      @DUH. First psychology is science and nothing in science is fact. I think this most recent experiment where nano particles were found to travel faster than light proves even the Theory of Relativity is just that...Theory. And I give more credit to Phsyics than I do Psychology any day. With that said, I don't need to be an expert to recognize or know that Life's primary purpose is survival. Observations of any animal on this planet proves that as Fact, not Theory. So "experts at the APA" mean nothing in my arguement. If Nature elected you to not reproduce, you are a irregularity of Nature. since this irregularity occurs in the brain (as gays would have you believe), then you have a MENTAL DISORDER (i believe that is the phrase Psychologist at the APA use) But what do i know. I just have a degree in psychology.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  8. Rich

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCjMGOvMghY&w=640&h=360]

    September 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  9. larry

    As someone pointed out, this is really non-news.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  10. BS

    I served 16 years in the military including 2 terms in Iraq. I am not gay, but a couple of the bravest soldiers I ever met were gay. Everyday they put their lives on the line to protect our country and if not for people like them you wouldn't have the freedom to be dumb a**es!

    September 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • CrazyTimes

      Most unit leaders will put openly gay troops in the front line.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • kimsland

      Why it sounds as though gays are normal and should be respected like anyone else.
      Why then does the church not see this?
      Arrr The church is abnormal

      September 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • DUH

      "Most unit leaders will put openly gay troops in the front line."

      Hey look another post not based on any fact just pure stupidity and hatred.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • BS

      One of the gay men I was speaking of was our unit commander.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  11. CrazyTimes

    Should a ped0phile be able to marry his 10 year old neighbor? I mean, what if she consented? If he got enough followers, he could try to force the laws to change. Of course he would have to fight against you people who are archaic and backwards and have opposing views.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • DUH

      "Should a ped0phile be able to marry his 10 year old neighbor? I mean, what if she consented? "

      DUH moron it's already illegal – gay sex isn't. Keep showing your ignorance on this subject. You should be embarassed with the amount of stupidity you've shown in your post since they definitely aren't based on facts.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Legally a 10 year old cannot consent. Most states it's around 16. Several hundred years ago, it was younger. You want to marry a 10 year old, I suggest you invent a time machine.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • CrazyTimes

      Shouldn't everyone one have equal rights?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • DUH

      "Shouldn't everyone one have equal rights?"

      Hey more stupidity not based on any facts. Now be a grown up and go look up what it means to be a pedophile and then why the laws were created.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      A 10 year old cannot be a "consenting adult". If you had thought through your question, rather than just react, it would have been obvious. Why are you so desperate to hate someone else and deny them something that doesn't affect you AT ALL! Gay people have been around forever, they've been in the military since day one and somehow we all survived. Imagine that!

      September 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • CrazyTimes

      Its the exact same thing. If you can come out of the closet, why can't pred0philes?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • milob

      Yes, CrazyTimes, everyone should have equal rights, I'm glad you see that. What's at issue is equality in the right to the already existing civil marriage contract. Removing the $ex-discrimination doesn't remove anything else: "one legally-consenting male and one legally consenting, not closely related female" vs. "one legally consenting person and one other legally consenting, not closely related person" doesn't open the door to polygamy, incest, pedophilia, or bestiality. If you or anyone would like to see those other parts of the marriage contract changed – the number of parties, the age of consent, the degree of existing relationship – by all means present your argument and let's consider the issues! But if you have no argument – if you're not genuinely advocating for those things – then you are being intellectually dishonest, disengenuous, and you need to look up "red herring." And if you're arguing that we shouldn't address one issue ($ex) because we might someday possibly have to look at other issues (age of consent, multi-party marriage), then you are both absurd and cowardly.

      But atl least we agree everyone should have equal rights....even if you were being sarcastic.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      Pedophiles want to and do try to have the right to marry a 10 year old. But, we as a society have decided, that a 10 year old is not old enough to give consent to marriage or to know right from wrong when it comes to killing people. That is why they are called juveniles. Your comparison only demonstrates your ignorance and does nothing to further RATIONAL discussion of the topic.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  12. Hmmmm

    I think JMR is Rush Limbaugh's alias sounds like his dumb a**

    September 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  13. von spoo

    excellent! the chaplain isn't being forced to do something they don't believe in, equal rights are always awesome, and i'm betting that soldiers who have something to protect will fight and work harder than those who don't. i don't see how this does anything but benefit society. remember people, we WANT people coupled off into stable, loving, hopefully long term relationships.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • rawr

      It has nothing to do with religion it is a private contract.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  14. Edwin

    How is this really news? It is a pretty minor policy change, and a non-controversial one at that (if the chaplain objects, they don't have to perform it). Repealing DADT was news - this part is just common sense policy adjustment.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  15. after39years

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

    Just asked my cat if he wanted to marry me. He said "No, you're a boy and so am I. That would just be sick."

    September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Edwin

      Most cats have pretty conservative value systems.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Edwin: seriously. Not only that, but you make a cat mad and it's mafia time – dead animals left for you to find as a warning to change your behavior.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  16. RickBobby

    Amazin' anyone has a problem with this. It doesn't force anyone into anything, including the chaplains. Isn't this what the right-wing-nuts wanted – government to stop interfering in our choices?

    September 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • DUH

      I want to smoke pot & I'm not allowd to.. So why can to gay boys hold hands and get married & call it marriage?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Not if our choices are different than their choices.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • DUH

      "I want to smoke pot & I'm not allowd to.. So why can to gay boys hold hands and get married & call it marriage?"

      Keep showing your an idiot and don't understand this subject.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Soldiers smoking pot = diminished capacity.
      Why do you think the American military doesn't tolerate alcohol when soldiers are active?
      Being gay doesn't cloud your judgement in a fire fight, getting drunk and/or high does.
      Do you see the distinction?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Edwin

      But in a real sense this IS the government doing something, since the chaplains are paid by Uncle Sam. Don't get me wrong - if chaplains already perform legally sanctioned marriages, I don't see why there should be a restriction on the type they can choose to perform.

      Some people, though, will get bent out of shape when it comes to gays and rights or tolerance or anything.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. CrazyTimes

    At least they let the chaplains decide if they will do the marriage or not. They left some room for morality.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Seriously

      "They left some room for morality."

      Based on your post you lost your morality a long time ago.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • after39years

      Can't wait for the rapture so that we can be through with you moronic zealots!

      September 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  18. Love

    Jesus would have attended one of these weddings. He was not a hater of people.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • kimsland

      Except those who didn't praise him.
      All those children can burn in hell forever
      What a nice guy!

      September 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Hulamama51

      And just like he told the woman about to be stoned for adultery...."Go and sin no more" He would never condone but He would continue to love....

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Earl

      He may have attended those wedding, just as He spoke with other sinners all the time, and He would have told them that sin separates people from God and that what they are doing is a sin. It remains a choice.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Love

      You know not of what you speak.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Love

      Just read who he REALLY got angry with...who was it, hmmmm?????

      September 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Love

      No takers? Ok...it was the RELIGIOUS!

      September 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  19. Earl

    I do not believe that people are born gay. It is a choice made by individuals that go against natural law. I am sick and tired to people trying to impose their choices on everybody. You want to be gay, be gay, be the gayest gay on the face of your gay planet. I don't care, until that is, you say thay by choosing to be gay that I am somehow required to support your choice. That's crap. Character counts. If your arguement is that I'm Gay man (could be woman) and that being Gay should give me the right to marry another Gay man, that's like saying I'm a dog lover and should be allowed to marry my dog, because he'll come and give me affection whenever I call him. That's crap.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • CrazyTimes

      You are dead on Earl. What if a ped0phile wants to marry his 12 year old neighbor. Should everyone change their archaic thinking and allow him to do it?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • kimsland

      You really need to learn what love is.
      Unless your wife is a dog?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • steelcoyot

      So tell me Earl when did you decide to be straight? Was it when you were born? When you were in gym class? Or was it when you stared at your teachers breast? When you made this decision did you try being gay? Did you try kissing your best friend to see if there was an attraction? If you haven't tried being gay who says that you're not gay? It's time to step out of the closet Earl.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • not the same

      how can you compare a human to a dog? it's the same kind of thinking that allowed the Nazi's to kill humans without regret. or the KKK to lynch black people. they saw them as sub-human... as dogs.
      these are HUMANS. and a person's affection for a dog is nothing like a bond of love between two humans. gay people are not asking for you to accept anything more than what they already accept from you. you can get married. it doesn't require anyone to accept your choice to marry... you can do it regardless of my opinion on the matter. why shouldn't all humans have that right?
      gays are not asking for your support, or trying to impose themselves on you. they just want the same rights as straight people.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • DUH

      "What if a ped0phile wants to marry his 12 year old neighbor."

      Hey moron use a dictionary then look at the law. Your stupidity on this subject is appalling it's amazing you're not embarrassed by your ignorance.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • DUH

      My name is DUH and I can fit my whole fist up my butt.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Now go and google "INFORMED CONSENT".
      Why must the right wing nutbars constantly conflate hom.ose.xuality with beastiality, pedophilia, etc ad nauseum

      September 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Steve - Dallas

      Wrong, Earl. I'm gay, always have been, and it was NOT a choice.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • kwalsh

      Earl, your an idiot.
      Why you think someone would choose to be gay is beyond me. No one is forcing anything on you nor asking for your support. Gay people who want to get married has nothing to do with you nor anyone else. As far as marrying a dog I don't even know what to say about that. But if someone can get the dog to form sentences and print his name on a the marriage license, then let the wedding bells ring...

      September 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      "Why must the right wing nutbars constantly conflate hom.ose.xuality with beastiality, pedophilia, etc ad nauseum"

      Because they have no other argument. They're losing, and they're grasping at straws. It's sad and pathetic, really.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • not the same

      @CrazyTimes: please use a relevant example. a 12 year old is not able to give consent. we're talking about two consenting adults.
      a more relevant example would be: why should we allow white people to marry black people? it used to be illegal. but at some point, people realized that black people are humans and starting treating them as such. gay people aren't asking for anything more than what you already have.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Observer

      Earl,

      Delusion is when someone thinks they can read the minds of millions of people and claim they are all lying.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Church of Suicidal

      You're really Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum, aren't you? No need to hide. Before you start babbling on about marrying doggies and kiddies and dead bodies, simply apply the rule of "consenting adults". Thank you for playing.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • All American Joe

      Earl, your a bigot and an idiot. I hope that little small thinking brain of yours doesn't explode. I think you better go back under the rock you live under and stay there until you decide to be a human. Good luck.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • SciFiChickie

      "being gay is a choice"
      REALLY???
      So by your logic, YOU are just as s3xually attracted to BOTH s3x's but you choose to be straight

      September 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Clifton

      You really think it's a choice, Earl? Let me ask you then, at what age did you make the conscious choice to be straight? Did it "just happen" or did you have to think about it?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  20. Balls McGhee

    I love all the false speculation. why dont you all shut up for one year and see how this plays out? remember when the religious right (wrong) said gay marriage would destroy the country? now more states have it and i dont think those states have collapsed at all. when will you stop repeating yourself when over and over and over again you have been proven wrong?

    September 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • CrazyTimes

      Your kidding right? Like, have you seen the economy? Our schools? Messed up dude!

      September 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • kimsland

      It takes a LONG time for religious people to catch up

      September 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • DUH

      If we let this play out all of our butholes will hurt.. Right?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Ed

      So, Crazy Times, you're saying all of our troubles are a result of gay marriage?!

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Seriously

      "If we let this play out all of our butholes will hurt.. Right?"

      Keep showing you're and idiot.

      September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • von spoo

      wait.. so the economy which was messed up by greed and stupidity and our schools that are messed up because 1. lazy STRAIGHT parents 2. low standards 3. lack of funds.... this is all the gays fault?

      September 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      Kimsland, you're right, but there is hope. The Catholic Church just recently admitted the world is round!! Crazytimes' enlightenment is only a few centuries away! 🙂

      September 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
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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.