By Jeromie Williams -
In what is being considered a huge step forward in the gay rights movement, the United States Navy has announced that it plans to move forward with allowing same sex marriages in its chapels in states that have already legalized such unions.
A document written by the head US Navy chaplain dated back to April 13th, 2011 was released today by The Navy Times and details the conditions under which the US Navy will begin performing same sex marriages.
"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."
The memo further continues on to state that "if the base is located in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, then base facilities may normally be used to celebrate the marriage. This is true for purely religious services (e.g., a chaplain blessing a union) or a traditional wedding (e.g., a chaplain both blessing and conducting the ceremony)."
Attacks from opponents of same sex marriage have come in swiftly as Republicans and conservatives have begun to catch wind of the shift in US Navy policy.
"Offering up federal facilities and federal employees for same-sex marriage violates DOMA, which is still the law of the land and is bound to the duties of our military, including chaplains,” Steve Taylor, communications director for Akin, told CNSNews.com.
“The administration and various states may be operating as if DOMA doesn't exist, but the Navy and Marine Corps and all the Armed Services are sworn to obey the law, which this new instruction violates,” he added.
Political and social justice website Mother Jones was quick to point out that the change in policy may only be a symbolic movement, rather than an opening of the floodgates for same sex marriage ceremonies.
"The policy's unlikely to have a significant impact on gay or military communities" says Mother Jones "There's no naval base, for example, in Iowa, one of five states (along with the District of Columbia) that recognize same-sex marriages. And until the DADT repeal is certified by the Pentagon, no service members are likely to be hitching up at the Washington Navy Yard.
"Not only that, chaplains who disagree with gay marriage on theological grounds are under no obligation to perform the ceremonies, which shrinks the pool of willing wedding officiators to virtually nil," the news site added.