Same-sex ceremony on Louisiana Army post draws fire

Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 3:39pm

A same-sex ceremony between an enlisted woman and a civilian woman on a U.S. Army post last month drew protests from lawmakers Thursday.

The "private religious ceremony" took place at Fort Polk in Louisiana in May, post spokesman Scott Stearns said, but he would confirm few other details.

Rep. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican whose congressional district includes the Army post, said the military confirmed to him that the same-sex ceremony was performed by an Army chaplain in the chapel.

The incident was an inevitable consequence of the end of the don't ask, don't tell policy in September, which previously banned homosexuals from military service, Fleming said.

"The liberal social experiment with our military continues," Fleming said. "A same-sex marriage-like ceremony should not have occurred at Fort Polk, especially since the people of Louisiana have made it abundantly clear that our state does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions."

Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican whose office said has been working "to protect traditional marriage on military bases," said the ceremony was "clearly in contravention of state law and also violates the Defense Department policies issued last fall."

"It is very concerning that a same-sex ceremony would occur on a military base in a state where the definition of marriage has been clearly defined as between one man and one woman," Akin said.

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.

Fleming and Akin both called for the passage of legislation that prevents military facilities from being used for same-sex marriages or marriage-like ceremonies.

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