Navy officials said Monday night that they have no choice in the matter. Assuming the ban is lifted – it is slated to happen around the end of the year – the Navy believes it cannot legally bar same-sex weddings or civil unions from taking place in its facilities.
“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 a state that permits same-sex marriage or union; and if that chaplain is, according to the applicable state and local laws, otherwise fully certified to officiate that state’s marriages,” said Rear Admiral Mark Tidd, the Navy’s chief of chaplains, to his fellow chaplains in an April 13 memo.
But Tidd’s assessment – which, Navy officials said, was run up the mast for vetting by higher-ups before he issued it – clashes with 63 members of the House, led by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. Akin is head of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, which gives him substantial clout over the Navy. “The law of the land is that the federal government defines marriage as between one man and one woman,” Akin said Monday. “This new guidance from the Navy clearly violates the law.”