Pelosi: No military chaplains have to perform same-sex marriages

The California Democrat said the chaplains already have that right, and no one is trying to take it away.

"Nobody's ordering them to do that. I've never seen any suggestion that we're ordering chaplains to perform same-sex [marriages]. Where is that?" Pelosi asked during her weekly press conference in the Capitol.

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"I haven't seen that, and I've been around this issue for a long time," she added. "I think that they can rest assured that if they don't believe in that, they don't have to perform those."

The remarks by Pelosi, a longtime advocate for marriage equality and other gay rights, came a week after President Obama became the first president to endorse same-sex marriage, which prompted outcry from religious and conservative groups who fear the erosion of their rights to treat homosexuality as a sin.

Republicans were quick to respond, adopting an amendment last week to the 2013 Defense authorization bill that would require the Pentagon to "accommodate the conscience and sincerely held moral principles and religious beliefs of the members of the Armed Forces concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality."

It also prevents the Defense Department from penalizing chaplains for refusing to participate in rituals that violate their “conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs.”

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who sponsored the amendment, said it ensures that chaplains aren't forced to accommodate gays or same-sex marriage in defiance of their moral convictions.

"This is trying to protect the ability of people to have their own opinion," Akin said.

Under current Pentagon rules, military chaplains may decline any involvement in gay marriage ceremonies.

Akin's amendment passed the committee by a vote of 36-25.

On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement saying it "strongly objects" to the provision, saying it constitutes an "unnecessary and ill-advised [policy] that would inhibit the ability of same-sex couples to marry or enter a recognized relationship under State law."

Pelosi on Thursday backed the administration, saying the Akin amendment is a response to "a manufactured crisis."

"I agree with the administration," Pelosi said. "There's nothing in there that says chaplains have to act against their faith. … Nobody's suggesting that, so why would you have a provision in the bill that suggests such a thing?"

The defense reauthorization bill is a grave topic, Pelosi added, "and to sprinkle it with almost scare tactics … is really a frivolous exploitation of a very serious piece of legislation."

The House is expected to pass the defense authorization bill by week's end, but the marriage provisions are not expected to survive the Democratically-controlled Senate.