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First same-sex marriage performed by an army chaplain

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 8th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On a Louisiana army post, an army chaplain has performed the first same-sex nuptial ceremony involving two lesbian soldiers. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Louisiana, so the event is being described as a "religious" ceremony.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Rep. John Fleming, M.D. reported that the U.S. Army had confirmed that the chaplain had performed the ceremony a few weeks ago in the base chapel at Fort Polk.

"It is my understanding that this is the first ceremony of its type on an American military base and that is, as it's reported, it was a wedding ceremony between two members of the same gender who are uniformed members of the Army," Fleming told CNSNews.com.

Fleming, who is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Army confirmed that the ceremony was not billed as an official marriage.

"As its characterized, this ceremony occurred only as a religious ceremony, it was not intended or advertised to be a lawful or legal union," Fleming said. "Such marriages between persons of the same-sex are not recognized by the state of Louisiana, so it can't be a lawful or legal marriage ceremony.

"That's a bit distressing in itself, because, why go through this, except for social or cultural experimentation, or to push forward or propagate somebody's agenda?" Fleming asked.

"I just think it's inappropriate to use military facilities for that purpose," he added.

Fort Polk military officials, in addition to the Army Office of Chief of Chaplains did not respond to further inquiries about the case.  A Fort Polk spokesman told the Associated Press described the event as a "same-gender private religious ceremony."

A Disciples of Christ chaplain performed a "marriage-like" commitment ceremony for the two lesbian soldiers, Dr. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Freedom says.

"They were very careful in the wording, from what I understand, to make this only a religious ceremony," Crews says, noting that the Disciples of Christ denomination allows its clergy to perform same-sex "commitment" ceremonies.

"That raises the question about the new DOD policy that allows a chaplain to do a marriage-like ceremony in a military chapel in a state that has a clear definition of marriage in their state law," Crews says. His organization represents more than 2,500 Christian military chaplains.

In dissent, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), chairman of the Seapower & Projection Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, loudly denounced the military for allowing the ceremony to be held in a military chapel.

"It is very concerning that a same-sex ceremony would occur on a military base in a state where the definition of marriage has been clearly defined as between one man and one woman," Akin said.

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