Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Navy Leads in SSM

File the Navy's most recent action as another tough time for control freaks. They'll be fluttering their folding fans over the new training for chaplains to include same-sex marriage ceremonies, where permitted by state or district laws.

That's right. Military folk doing what military folk do — obeying orders. In this case, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs are implementing the dismantling of the former don't-ask-don't-tell ban on homosexual personnel. The marriage part is just another detail. After all, our services try to be a one-stop shop for the troops and officers.

Among the anti-LGBT folk, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin heads the retrograde charge. He got 62 other members of Congress to sign a letter to the Secretary of the Navy protesting. The gist is to forget what the Commander in Chief says or anyone in Defense. Instead, adhere to the strict letter of the moribund (my word) 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The letter includes, "While a state may legalize same-sex marriage, federal property and federal employees, like Navy chaplains, should not be used to perform marriages that are not recognized by federal law."

For the it's-only-common-sense crowd, this is a shut and keep it shut case. Any gimmick to avoid the inevitable and maintain control over the states and lives of their citizens is fair.

Of course it isn't. Moreover, the Navy covered the real objection we have heard so many times. It lets any cleric whose personal religion does not approve of SSM refuse to perform such ceremonies. Yet by the nature of the job, chaplains necessarily minister to a wide variety of personnel with the full range of religious beliefs, rites and rituals. In addition, they too are soldiers, accustomed to taking care of their troops and not playing drama queens.

Well, good on the Navy for doing the obvious and being first. It was certain to happen and one of the services had to just do it. If a marriage is legal in the state where the base is, that's part of the job.

It is also, like it and accept it or sit in a corner wailing about it, Rep. Akin, part of the culture and legal structure.

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