Washington: US military chaplains can perform
gay wedding ceremonies in states where it is legal, the
Pentagon said, 10 days after the end of a ban on gays serving
openly in the armed forces.
So far, gay marriage is legal in six US states, but the
federal government does not recognise it, meaning that the
partners of gay soldiers do not have the same benefits as
those in heterosexual marriages, such as health insurance.
"A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any
private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation,
provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable
state and local law," a Pentagon memo said.
The chaplain is however "not required to participate in
or officiate any private ceremony if doing so be in variance
with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs."
The Department of Defence memo also said that a military
chaplain`s participation in a private ceremony "does not
constitute an endorsement of the ceremony by the DoD."
Gay marriage is recognised by the states of Connecticut,
Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, as
well as in the District of Columbia.
The "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" policy, which was adopted in
1993, required those in the military to conceal their
homosexuality or risk being discharged. About 14,000 service
members were kicked out of the military under the rule.
The US Senate voted to repeal the controversial law in
December. The prohibition on openly gay rights expired on