WASHINGTON – In the wake of a protest this week by more than 60 lawmakers, the Pentagon General Counsel and Navy lawyers are taking another look at whether military chaplains can marry gay servicemembers without violating the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Pentagon previously stated that such marriages by chaplains on military installations would not violate the law once “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regulations are repealed. But that’s up in the air, said Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan.
“Now legal counsel wants to go in and take a closer look at it, so it may be that [the current opinion on gay marriage] will hold after the review, but that’s why we do the review – to see if it is appropriate,” he said.
Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark Tidd issued a memo last month authorizing chaplains willing to perform gay marriages to do so following DADT repeal. But the lawmakers who appealed the memo said DOMA, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, prohibits gay marriages from being performed on federal property or by federal employees.
“That memo itself raised questions about policy and legal implications that require further review, so that’s why the memo was suspended until further review can be conducted,” Lapan said.
With on-base marriage the sole point of DADT policy the Pentagon is reviewing, it’s unlikely the dispute will delay final repeal of the policy, he said. Repeal is expected to occur sometime after the service branches complete repeal training this summer.