GOP Congressman Sneaks Military Marriage Ban Onto Defense Appropriations Bill

Opponents of marriage equality had a conniption when the news broke that a gay couple recently tied the knot on an army base—with some military chaplains allegedly in attendance, no less.

Looking to capitalize on the situation, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) of Iowa today attached an amendment to a pending Defense Appropriations Bill that would both ban same-sex weddings on bases and block military clergy from being involved in any gay nuptials.

“The Defense of Marriage Act means this: Marriage means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. And the word ‘spouse’ only refers to a member of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife,” said King. “[It’s a] pretty simple statute being contravened by the President of the United States as exercised through the Secretary of Defense.”

The issue of same-sex ceremonies on military stations came to the fore when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. But after Slate reported on the union of Air Force Tech Sargent Erwynn Umali and his fiance, Will Behrens, at a joint military base in new Jersey,  King pulled out the big guns.

The Iowa Republican claims the Secretary of Defense’s directive to allow military chaplains to officiate any private ceremony on or off-base was basically “implied encouragement to conduct same-sex marriages on our military bases.”

The House is expected to vote on the bill this afternoon.

Photo: Jeff Sheng