Coffman, Lamborn work to ban gay weddings from military facilities

Colorado Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman joined Rep. Michele Bachmann and 83 other members of the House as signers of a letter to the U.S. Senate urging that body to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit gay members of America’s Armed Forces from using military facilities for marriage ceremonies.

The Department of Defense, in the wake of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, has indicated that it will allow chaplains and same-sex couples to use facilities on a “sexual orientation-neutral basis,” something Republican members of the U.S. House oppose.

The letter was authored by Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and was signed by 86 members of the House.

“The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed into law by President Clinton,” Akin said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this current administration is now directing the Department of Defense to ignore this law and perform gay marriages on military bases. I think this is wrong, which is why I offered an amendment to the House-passed defense bill making it clear that DOMA applies to the DOD. This letter calls for the Senate to add a similar amendment to their version of the bill. The Department of Defense should not be allowed to simply ignore laws they do not like.”

The House members complain that guidance by the Department of Defense General Counsel would make resources available to all members of the military. The general counsel guidance said that the “use of DoD real property and facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a sexual orientation neutral basis.”

“This clear and deliberate violation of established U.S. law sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter states. “[The Defense of Marriage Act] makes it clear that for purposes of the federal government, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. The use of federal property or federal employees to perform anything but opposite-sex ceremonies is a clear contravention of the law.”

The letter comes as same-sex couples in the military filed suit to overturn DOMA on Thursday in order to secure military benefits denied to them by the federal government.

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Andy Birkey

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