Gay weddings can be performed by military chaplains, Pentagon says – The Federal Eye – The Washington Post

 With lesbians and gay men now serving openly in the US military, the next step is to ensure parity in employment conditions. One part of this is equal access to chaplaincy services. This has just come a little bit closer, with a Pentagon announcement that military chaplains will now be permitted to officiate at same-sex weddings – but only in the states where these are legally sanctioned, and where they are permitted by their religious denominations. The emphasis is also on “permitted”, not “required”. That’s quite a small opening then: even in liberal Massachusetts, there will be no military gay weddings by Catholic priests, and none by United Church chaplains in Virginia. Even where church regulations and state law agree in permitting same-sex nuptials, the couple’s desire to walk down the aisle in church could still be stymied by a local chaplain who is not willing to play ball.

It remains an important step though for at least some servicemen and women. As marriage equality spreads to more states and to more churches (as it will).


The Pentagon will permit military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage in states that legally recognize gay marriage, it said Friday.

Defense Department guidance issued to military chaplains said they may participate in ceremonies on or off military bases in states that recognize gay unions. Chaplains are not required to officiate at same-sex weddings if doing so is counter to their religious or personal beliefs, the guidance said.

And regardless of the Pentagon guidance, military chaplains will still need to take cues from their religious order, said Gary Pollitt, spokesman for the Military Chaplains Association.

“Just because the Department of Defense says this can happen, the chaplains perform such rites in keeping with their ecclesiastical authorization. Period,” Pollitt said.

 - The Washington Post.

When a similar announcement was made by the US Navy back in April, it was met with howls of outrage from conservative commentators, and from Republican politicians, who promised to introduce legislation to prevent it. In June, the Navy revoked the earlier guidelines, “pending additional legal and policy review” and closer coordination with the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Now that DADT is officially history, it was inevitable that the question would arise once more. Conservative opposition will once again be intense – but will get nowhere, as even some GOP lawmakers are realising that discrimination is no longer a guaranteed vote-getter, and in some districts may even be a political liability.

Next stop: equal access to military family housing.

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In the Navy: Chaplains Permitted to Conduct Same Sex Weddings

How times have changed! A year ago, DADT was still official policy, and DOMA formally supported by the US administration. Now, with DADT on the way out, new guidelines show that not only is it OK to be gay, but for at least some people in the armed services, it will be possible to marry their partners on military property, in services conducted by military chaplains.

US Navy Gives OK for On Base Same-Sex Marriages

“Regarding chaplain participation, consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization, a chaplain may officiate a same-sex, civil marriage: if it is conducted in accordance with the laws of the state which permits same-sex marriages or union; and if the chaplain is, according to applicable state and local laws, otherwise fully certified to officiate that state’s marriages.”

Chief of Chaplains Memo, MRC

UK Wedding: Why not the US?



In the Navy:Official Disapproval,Sensitivity in Bereavement.

In the Catholic Church, many people will know that in spite of official disapproval from on high, and outright hostility by some individuals in the church, very often parishes on the ground can be truly welcoming and accepting, with acceptance and full inclusion from both parishioners and parish priests. That was certainly my experience at Holy Trinity Parish, Braamfontein, Johannesburg -and is the experience of many others at countless parishes around the world.

A story from Chicago Sun Times demonstrates that this disconnect between official disapproval and practical warmth on the ground also applies in other formally homophobic institutions, in this instance the US marines. In spite of the policy of DADT which was still in force last June, and notwithstanding the vicious persecution that some gay servicemen experienced under that policy, the widowed husband of one Marine, John Fliszar,  found exceptional co-operation from the Naval Academy officials when he approached them for help in executing the dead man’s wish to have his ashes  interred in the Naval Academy.

I enjoyed imagining the confused expressions of these officials when they were first approached by the widowed husband, Mark Ketterson:

The memorial coordinator asked about his relationship to the deceased. Ketterson said that John Fliszar was his husband.

“They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation,” Ketterson recalled. “They said they’re going to need something in writing from a blood relative. They asked, ‘Are you listed on the death certificate?’ ‘Do you have a marriage license?’ ”


DADT, and Trans in the Military

As DADT repeal continues its labyrinthine path through the US Congress, it is once again worth noting how far ahead other countries are. The DADT proposals are for inclusion of gay men and lesbians only, and make no provision for trans people in the services. In marked contrast, both South Africa and Australia have not only welcomed trans members, but have also provided extensive medical, surgical and psychiatric support for the transition process to  service people who have begun their journey while already members of the armed forces.

The National Post reports that Canada also “helps” one or two troops through sex change a year, but does not detail the extent of this support. Now, the Canadian Forces have prepared guidelines on how transsexual and transgendered troops should be accommodated. On the one hand, troops have a right to privacy and respect for their decision. On the other, they have an obligation to conform to the dress code of  their target gender.


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