Navy chaplains and same-sex unionsNavy officials said Monday that they updated the training after questions came up about civil ceremonies for gay couples. Military training to apply the new law allowing gays to serve openly began early this year and is expected to be complete by midsummer.
In earlier training guidelines issued by the Defense Department and the military services, same-sex marriage ceremonies were not mentioned, and therefore not explicitly prohibited.
Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said Monday that the federal Defense of Marriage Act does not restrict the types of ceremonies a chaplain may perform in a chapel on a military base. The military would not compel chaplains to perform a same-sex marriage if it would be against their religious beliefs.
The Pentagon has been moving carefully to implement the repeal of the 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops. Under the law passed and signed by the president late last December, final implementation will go into effect 60 days after the president and his senior defense advisers certify that lifting the ban will not adversely affect troops' ability to fight.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked for updates every two weeks, and so far defense officials have said there have been no reported problems.
The Navy ceremonies would be allowed at military facilities such as chapel and catering centers, but only in states that already recognize same-sex unions.