In response to claims that the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will force military chaplains to perform gay marriages, a defense official told me today that chaplains are not required to perform marriages which violate the tenets of their religion.
The day DOMA was repealed, David Barton opined to Glenn Beck that military chaplains will now have to perform weddings for gay service members. Barton said DOMA had protected “the rights of chaplains not to have to perform gay marriage against their will.” He then predicted that chaplains would be under renewed pressure to perform these ceremonies.
However, according to a defense official, nothing has changed because of the repeal of DOMA. The official told me “a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs.”Given this stance, it seems quite unlikely that gay people will join the military just to get married, as Barton predicted Monday. A more efficient route for someone who lives in a state which does not recognize gay couples would be to go to a state without a residency requirement (e.g., Massachusetts). In any case for now, DOD is on record as saying chaplains can refuse to perform private ceremonies if those activities violate the tenets of their religion.