Same-Sex Ceremony on Louisiana Army Base Stirs Controversy
By Jason Carson Wilson
Louisiana lawmakers and citizens are seething over a May same-sex commitment ceremony. A military chaplain officiated the ceremony for a lesbian couple—a military member and civilian—in Fort Polk training base’s military chapel, according to CNN.
U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo.
Louisiana’s state constitution bans same-sex marriage, anti-marriage equality forces allege military members participating in the ceremony broke the law. U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., believes the commitment ceremony violated Defense Department policy.
Scott Stearns, Fort Polk spokesman, confirmed the two women, one a took part in a commitment ceremony. However, Stearns said all base chapel staff members were aware it wasn’t a marriage ceremony. A spokesman for U.S. John Fleming, R-La., said a constituent alerted the office about the ceremony.
Fleming said, in a statement, that the ceremony was “marriage-like.” Akin sponsored legislation last year, which forbids military sites to be used to ‘officiate, solemnize or perform a marriage or marriage-like ceremony involving anything other than the union of one man with one woman.’
The House Armed Services Committee approved including Akin’s proposal in the committee’s version of the 2013 Defense Reauthorization Bill by a vote of 37-24. His amendment died in the Senate, The Hill reported.
“This appears to be a case where political agenda has trumped the rule of law, which is absolutely unacceptable,” Akin said, according to a statement.
Thanks to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell“, the Defense Department allows military chaplains to officiate private ceremonies that aren’t prohibited by law. Louisiana doesn’t legally recognize gay marriages or civil unions.
“The liberal social experiment with our military continues,” Fleming said. “My frustration is compounded by the fact that a social agenda, which has nothing to do with military readiness or our national defense, is being imposed on our men and women in uniform.”
Military personnel can reserve post facilities for private events such as weddings or other ceremonies, Human Rights Campaign spokesman Charles Joughin said.
“The sexual orientation of those involved in a private event shouldn’t have any relevance to whether or not people can access facilities that are open to everyone,” Joughin said.