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Senate to allow chaplains to opt out of gay weddings

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Thanks to Sagesse for bringing this to us in Quick Hits.  The Army Times reports that yesterday, the Senate voted to allow military chaplains to choose not to perform gay marriages if they if they are personally or religiously opposed to the practice.  The measure was passed by a voice vote with no debate, and attached to the 2012 military authorization bill.

Pentagon policy already allows chaplains to decide which marriages they wish to perform, if any.  Wicker’s amendment is intended to put that policy into law to alleviate concerns among some that the Defense Department could change its its rules at some point and require chaplains to perform same-sex marriages.  Of course, it’s worth arguing about the need for the amendment in light of the current policy.

The bill, introduced by Senator Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, is a more moderate version than the one the House introduced into its authorization bill, which would prohibit military chaplains from performing any same-sex marriage.  That measure passed this summer, 236-184.  The different versions will have to be reconciled before the bill is passed.


  • 1. Alan_Eckert  |  December 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    They were already allowed to do so without repercussion. Waste of time.

  • 2. Michael  |  December 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Hello All…..AFER's email indicates that a remote viewing site is in Portland, OR. WIll this be at Pioneer Courthouse?????????? I hope so, because what a beautiful setting to watch things for two hours!

  • 3. Ronnie  |  December 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    They already had that right, its called the first amendment. I concur with Alan, this was a total waste of time. How is this creating jobs? What financial gain does this contribute to the economy? Nothing?….. hmmm… interesting……But if they think they are going to be allowed to violate the first amendment rights of the 200+ chaplains who support the freedom to marry then they are highly mistaken & in for a rude awakening….just saying……. Anyway, subscribing & sharing…..

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  • 4. bjasonecf  |  December 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    UPDATE: Mass. DOMA Cases (Appeals) –

    As promised, BLAG's reply brief filed.

  • 5. Paul  |  December 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Well, that's what $1.5 million dollars buys you I guess. It's actually coherent. Seems to me like they didn't either bother to refute the fact that gays and lesbians should be considered a suspect class – clearly this court can and should revisit their prior finding. They did actually make some reasonable rational basis arguments. So it seems like they just challenged the court to use a suspect classification in order to overturn DOMA. This is definitely better than the Prop 8 briefs from the wingnuts.

  • 6. Rhonda  |  December 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Is it just me, or does the author of the brief sound a bit pompous?

  • 7. NYCBruce  |  December 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Couldn't care less about this. Chaplains are ALREADY permitted to pick and choose those weddings over which they wish to preside, so this is a non-starter issue. Some GOP bag of wind thinks he can get some "extra credit" from the radical right for gay bashing, but the net impact of this is nada. Go ahead and sic GLAAD on them if you think it makes any difference, but I'd rather spend our scarce resources fighting for the repeal of DOMA, or something that has some tangible benefit for the LGBT community.

  • 8. MichGuy  |  December 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I wish we could see a copy of the actual language used in the Bill on this matter !

  • 9. James Sweet  |  December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

    To all of those saying it is a waste of time: Of course not! This allows all of the senators who voted in favor of this pointless and redundant bill to flex their "we are protecting your right to be an asshole" credentials. How can you call that a waste of time? It's the sole purpose of this bill!

  • 10. Carpool Cookie  |  December 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Well, a good thing, anyway, is that by keeping the religious ceremony topic in the news, it allows informed people to point out THE PROTECTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE for churches or pastors or whomever to opt out. And if it makes some misguided conservatives feel they're making their religion "safer"…well, okay. I guess the downside would be if a military personel person wanted a same sex wedding THAT MINUTE, they might not have a chaplain of their faith available, if they were refusing to do it. But, such an uptight chaplain would have refused to do it anyway….so they'd be back at the no-starting point where they started. Right?

  • 11. NancyH  |  December 2, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Why are tax payer dollars being wasted on marriage services in the military?

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