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. jay sargos

    All these sinners shall be smite thee smiitten, twice thee smitten
    he who sinneth thee smitten
    sayeth the lawd.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • BRC

      That's a lot of smiting.

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

      To mis-quote Laurie Anderson, "Koo Koo Ka Roo....Don't Forget Your SMITTENS!!"

      Sorry, jay sargos, I couldn't tell if you were being serious or not, so I decided you must be joking, and replied in kind.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Colin

      cuddly kittens, with little white mittens, these are a few of my favorite things.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Nathan

      I'm such a sinner, girl! You and everyone else on this page might as well be "smitted" by the lawd! lol Peace!

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

      These are The Talkings of The Lord.. Can I get a "Harumph"?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  2. Colin

    10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

    01) Gay marriage will encourage straight people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make short people tall.

    02) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets, because gays marrying will alter the fundamental $ex drive of others.

    03) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

    04) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed. My parents in Texas ran screaming to the court to get a divorce, the minute they heard that a gay couple married in Vermont.

    05) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

    06) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

    07) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. We really want people who, in the 21st Century, still believe in sky-gods and evil ground-devils, based on 2,000 year old Palestinian mythology, setting social policy.

    08) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

    09) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

    10) Gay marriage will lead to social disorder. I constantly hear of large groups of gays protesting against the right of Christians to marry and committing acts of violence against Christians.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • ajboys

      all what you say is not gonna take you anywhere, so take it and shove it

      September 30, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • bear0402

      You know what? They were saying the same thing about allowing blacks to serve next to whites in the military too.

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


      September 30, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Alex A.

      I love when people don't recognize sarcasm.

      ProTip: It's *supporting* gay marriage.

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

      These have to be the most valid excuses I ever heard. You get the 'Sarcasm of the Year' award. I love it, keep it up.

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

      Very Nice. A humorous and logical argument. I would love to see a humorous and logical rebuttal but I guess "shove it" is all you are probably going to get. Regardless, nice job.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Another Reason for Muslims to Hate the U.S.

      Clearly Colin is Gay.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Gayle P Junius


      September 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Matt - Bethlehem, PA

      @ Gayle,

      And what rights are you denied?

      -VOTING – I believe you can
      -OWN PROPERTY – I think that is legal
      -GET MARRIED – Yep
      -GET DIVORCED – I think so.

      ...Please oh please Gayle, let us know what rights you are denied by this country.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • TransHuman1

      @Gayle has the right to leave the caps lock key on if he (she? Gayle, so I can't tell – he/ she probably can't either) want to.

      You know, as a straight married man from Massachusetts, it's been awfully hard to stay straight and married now that gay marriage is legal. Also, you should see all the wild adultery and divorces happening, the absolute disregard for family in the form of said adultery & divorces, along with how we've abandoned our children. You can tell, because of the high illiteracy rates and high child mortalitry rates – oh, wait. Sorry. What's that? My bad. That's Mississippi, Texas, and all of the red states I'm talking about. Up here, where we have gay marriage, we also have the lowest divorce and adultery rates, the best educated kids, and the kids who stand the best chance to live to see their 18th birthday. At which point, they're free to marry the person they love.

      October 1, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  3. saw

    The Military was the first to fully integrate blacks and whites in America, so it doesn't surprise me that it is now in a leading position for ruling on gay rights. This is an positive indicator of things to come for America as a whole, it is just unfortunate that every generation continues to find another civil rights hurdle to leap, and so many people willing to curse and decry anyone who doesn't fit into their definition of "normal" or "American" or who simply doesn't share their belief system. America is a country made strong by the ideal of offering freedom to all people, but we still have a long way to go to reach that dream. Luckily we have the best Military in the world because of it's diversity, no despite it, and that reflects well on what America is suppose to be.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  4. ajboys

    Just another winning for the LGBt community , all the religious haters please keep your words for your self because with your religion you ruined the country

    September 30, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Matt - Bethlehem, PA

      It's not about whose winning or losing...it is about EQUALITY.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  5. Nathan

    LOL @ all the negative Jesus freak comments about how this is so wrong! -.- Grow up people.

    This is a wonderful thing that is happening! Progress in the making. 🙂

    September 30, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  6. Cory

    You know, all of you concerned that the next logical step after two human beings (and that's what each of us are – human beings) will be that we will be marrying our pets, you can put your mind at ease. I'm pretty sure that until you can teach your pet to make a logical, thought out decision, and train them to sign their name on the dotted line, that probably won't go very far.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Jack

      I know my wife loves our pets more than me.

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

      The gay debate has always been about two consenting adults. The knee-jerk response by Christians, Republicans and Hillbillies is to inject intimate relations with animals is so prevalent that I'm beginning to wonder about these groups.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  7. Mike

    The military is not a social experiment. Our job is to win wars. Gays should not be allowed to serve

    September 30, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • MarkinPDX


      September 30, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • JimS.

      Tell that to the entire rest of the world, whose militaries have been doing it for years.It's not like we're the first.
      Go back under your rock.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Duh

      "Gays should not be allowed to serve"

      Hey moron they already are serving and have been serving throughout our history. Prejudice like yours shouldn't be allowed, grow up.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Ed

      The military is not a social experiment. Our job is to win wars. Gays should be allowed to serve in the military.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Dave

      They've been serving for years you just didn't know it. When they are dieing along side their straight brothers and sisters then yeah, it's time they be allowed to serve openly. I don't get the deal with people. Why does it bother you if they get married? Are you worried you'll suddenly turn gay?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • John Winfield

      Wow; this idiot really just posted this! If the military wasn't a social experiment, then why was DADT implemented in the first place. George Washington trusted an openly gay man to transform his military and help us when the Revolutionary War. Parts of the war manual written by Steuben is still in use today. Without this openly gay man, we would have lost Valley Forge, and maybe even George Washington. Try this one again, Mike.

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

      Mike you are about a year too late.

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

      Hey Mike, insecure much?

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

      Yeah because there's a ton of research saying straight people fight better. Not!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Jack

      The military has always been at the forefront of equality. People of color, immigrants, women. The only thing they don't allow are half wits like you. After all they have standards.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Marine

      @ Mike, Outstanding. OOOrah.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • mike in nv

      The miltary is not a social experiment. Their job is to fight wars. Only people able to perform the job should serve. How's that?

      September 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Matt - Bethlehem, PA

      @ Mike,

      HEE-HAW, go back to your redneck hillbilly bar and have a few more Pabst Blue Ribbons.

      As long as uneducated redneck morons like you stay out of the military, we'll keep winning.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  8. Duh

    "can you have kids being gay? two male genitals are not meant to be"

    he majority of research on this topic asks whether children raised by lesbian and gay parents are at a disadvantage when compared to children reaised by heterosexual parents. The most common questions and answers to them are these:

    Do children of lesbian and gay parents have more problems with sexual identity than do children of heterosexual parents?

    For instance, do these children develop problems in gender identity and/or in gender role behavior? The answer from research is clear: sexual and gender identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same way among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents.

    Do children raised by lesbian or gay parents have problems in personal development in areas other than sexual identity?

    For example, are the children of lesbian or gay parents more vulnerable to mental breakdown, do they have more behavior problems, or are they less psychologically healthy than other children? Again, studies of personality, self-concept, and behavior problems show few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents.

    Are children of lesbian and gay parents likely to have problems with social relationships?

    For example, will they be teased or otherwise mistreated by their peers? Once more, evidence indicates that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal social relationships with their peers and adults. The picture that emerges from this research shows that children of gay and lesbian parents enjoy a social life that is typical of their age group in terms of involvement with peers, parents, family members, and friends.

    Are these children more likely to be sexually abused by a parent or by a parent’s friends or acquaintances?

    There is no scientific support for fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by their parents or their parents’ gay, lesbian, or bisexual friends or acquaintances.

    In summary, social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • JJ

      Please don't confuse conservative Christian Republicans with science. They will never get their heads around empirical evidence. Don't you have some metaphysical or supernatural way of explaining gay people. I'm sure they can grasp that approach.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • jmr

      one view from one side, get a second opinion, its a mental disease, it brings on muliple partners, no morality, does not contribute to normal function society – guess what if everyone is acting on their personal desires, and you want to be gay – no more kids get born, it aint right

      September 30, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Duh

      "one view from one side, get a second opinion, its a mental disease, i"

      You sir are a complete moron, the American Psychological Association (APA) is a scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States. With more than 154,000 members, APA is the largest association of psychologists worldwide.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      " it brings on muliple partners, no morality, does not contribute to normal function society"

      @jmr, I as.sume you have evidence for such and aren't just spouting your own ignorant bigoted thoughts, yes?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  9. ajboys

    That mean a military Chaplin can perform my marriage with my boyfriend

    September 30, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • JimS.

      And you, jmr, can burn "in hell" for your hate.

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

      ha ha aids, you like it or not we gonna get married we can adopt kids and we gonna raise them better than you

      September 30, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  10. JohnR

    A small step forward.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • LicenseToSteal

      Closer to the cliff!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Donna

      With Christians in the house, getting incremental rights from our government every few years is like pulling teeth. It must be terrible to be proved wrong once again about a minority group of Americans. Slavery would have never been intact for so long without the tacit approval of the church.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Matt - Bethlehem, PA


      As we get closer to that cliff you speak of, hopefully you'll be the first to jump.

      September 30, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  11. Kevin

    If the military would pay everyone a basic salary whether they are married or single & whether or not they live on or off base & have them pay "rent" for on base housing, then this whole marriage thing will likely go away. service members get a lot of extra money every month if they are married or have dependents, whereas single service members do not get the extra money. Same work, less money. Also if 2 service members are married to each other & live off base, they each get the extra money, this is no measly chump change either. An E-5 w/ dependents in San Diego w/ dependents gets an additional $2000 per month. So 2 members married to one another get their base pay plus an additional $4000 per month than a single service member living in the barracks or onboard ship gets.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • jmr

      thats actually not right, its not that much more (you can look it up right on the net) and they do give everyone the pay and make the on base folks pay, I used to work there, so stop your trolling

      September 30, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • jmr

      and only ones gets it not both like you false claim, has nothing to do with gross gays either

      September 30, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Liberal's Bane

      What is your source for this insanity? Two service members that are married do not both draw full benefits. I was stationed in San Diego 3 years ago and its my home town, married and 2 kids as an E5. San Diego is a high cost of living area and as an E5 I couldn't exactly live Next door to my mother in La Jolla or in Coronado with my pay and benefits. Guess what choices that leaves? Culla vista, Nasty city, lemon grove ect... you know, the not so good neighborhoods. If my wife wasn't working we would have been on food stamps and what not.

      People like you have diarrhea of the mouth, a lot of "extra money"? Please. And FYI if you are lucky enough to live in "on base housing" which could be anywhere from San Diego its self all the way to feaking Lake side the "extra" pay comes out automatically, all of it meaning you are never able to touch it. I have never complained about my pay because I choose to serve but idiots like you try to make it seem like we live on the lap of luxury. Check your sources, do your homework and understand something before you spew out crap or else STFU.

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

      I'm very openly gay by the way. I just love to bash myself and fellow gay friends for fun.

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

      @jmr: " so stop your trolling"

      This coming from the person who has posted far more than anyone else on this article spouting ignorance, bigotry, intolerance, lies, and hatred.

      I heart irony.

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

      It doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with DADT, but he is correct. I have seen probably over 50 enlisted military couples in a 10 year span that factored in the financial benefits of extra money they would obtain if they simply got married. The logic behind their decision seemed sound at the time. They were already living together as boyfriend and girlfriend off base. Simply obtaining a marriage decree would bring in extra income. If they ended up splitting, they would simply not obtain a divorce until one or the other decided to remarry. Often it didn't work out quite so smoothly. Allowing for extra pay for married couples versus single no longer works in a society with a 50% divorce rate. The pay gap should be eliminated.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  12. BUCKEYE13


    September 30, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • BRC

      CAPS LOCK; because trolling must be performed with maximum emphasis.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Duh

      No, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders nor are they sick bastards. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Vivian

      I'm certain that you have no medical credentials.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  13. jmr

    I read this and vomited

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

      I got diarrhea!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Randy

      Yes, taxpayer money going to chaplains or faith based charities can be rather sickening.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  14. Joe B

    WoW, let me get this straight

    1. We have a president that believes we can spend our way out of debt and gays should be able to marry
    2. We have the GOP who thinks we shouldn't raise taxes on the rich, it will hurt the economy
    3. We are still slaves to the middle east because of their oil and yet we are not pushing forward with free energy like wind and solar
    4. Massive animals and fish are dying all at once and no one can explain it or really cares
    5. Natural disasters are more frequent and more intense over the last couple of years

    and you liberals think we are on the right track and God doesn't exist.

    This world is not headed for disaster, we are already there !!!!

    This was all written down a couple of thousand years ago and gets clearer every day.

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

      amen – although a little over the top

      September 30, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Joe B

      Just a little, but scary. Both Dem and Rep have turned into complete idiots with no place to go. Haven't seen it this bad in 46 years. Liberals are way right and GOP is way left. They both are destroying the country and no one with any common sense to step in. This country is screwed

      September 30, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Colin

      And what about any of the above (the increasing frequency of earthquakes is nonsense by the way and suggest a paranoia on your part) suggests there IS an all loving sky-fairy?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • jeffrey

      Well you got the part right that God doesn't exist

      September 30, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Reply

      If there is a God then pray. Oh wait, nothing will happen.

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

      Both parties believe in God. Republicans use God as a tool to keep gays in perpetual second class citizenship. Democrats use God as inspiration to lend a hand to all of their brothers and sisters.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  15. AaronT

    There is no bigger sin. weather the tank has no sugar or a lot of sugar we trespass so often it's uncalled for to criticize someone weather they have plenty of sugar or not. Our focus should not be on sugar but on Christ Jesus, the answer to our problems.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • BRC

      I'm sorry, but I don't get the sugar reference, where did that come from?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • JeSuisRacerX

      It's "whether", not weather.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • AaronT

      Even if I had a lot of sugar I would still be speaking the same words. It's about Jesus, not the sugar

      September 30, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • AaronT

      I Mistyped "whether" @JeSuisRacerx Thank you for loving me so much you stayed behind to do my work. Bless your heart.

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

      Love to everyone! Thank you all for your considerations.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Matt - Bethlehem, PA

      weather = snow, rain sleet, hail, sunshine.

      Please get your words correct.

      September 30, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  16. Dano

    SAD – Our military must now conform to the behavior of the enlisted. When I served in the USMC during the early 70's an enlisted person had to conform to strict and moral conduct. Our enemy is laughing.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Bill

      "our military must now conform to the enlisted"... wow... well, I guess if you're going to be a moron, you should be the best moron possible.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Marine

      You are with out a doubt right Dano. A lot of Marines will die for the lack of discipline.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Agatha

      A few dinosaurs are still alive.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  17. Buddy

    this gay marriage thing needs to go away. bunch of crap. just glad I wont have to deal with them when im with God. thats right the swear word in america i said God uh ohh.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Dr. Joe

      All you people just get raptured already so the rest of us free thinkers can enjoy our lives!!!

      September 30, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Steven

      Can you please go join him now so we don't have to deal with your interference in our lives anymore?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Agatha

      I'm with God at the local coffee shop on Mondays between 10:00 and 10:30. When do you have him?

      September 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  18. Boston1981

    The LGBT community does not win every time the issue goes to courts. But they should in my opinion.
    And that is really what this is about. Puttingupwithstupid said that being gay is not normal. Nice opinion – but that's all it is. In my opinion, being gay is perfectly normal. So who's right? I guess we'll just have to stick to our opinions.

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

      "So who's right? I guess we'll just have to stick to our opinions."

      Based on a group of experts it's normal. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Bob

      @jmr – You're complaining a lot. Are you closeted?

      September 30, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Boston1981

      Seriously: I 100% agree. Trust me. But no amount of scientific information will change these peoples opinions. So let them have them. I really don't care because in their minds it will always be abnormal. The legal fight I welcome is that they can have that opinion all they want but legally can't do anything about it. And that is exactly what is happening step by step.

      September 30, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  19. adamthefirst

    There goes cnn again pushing there gay selfish agenda.

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


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

      Oh, there goes CNN again reporting the news. How shameful.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Betsy

      There goes CNN again wandering from the conservative propaganda concerning gay people.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  20. LicenseToSteal

    "America's True Messiah". Wow! What kind of drugs do you take?

    September 30, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • jmr

      really, those that voted to prove Im not racist got what they got, he is ruining us

      September 30, 2011 at 11:16 am |
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About this blog

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.