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Photos by Jeff Chiu/AP; Mario Tama/Getty Images (inset)

Marriage under fire

2011 News of the Year | Navy changes course on chaplain directive regarding 'don't ask, don't tell'

Issue: "2011 News of the Year," Dec. 31, 2011

A tough year for traditional marriage began in February when President Barack Obama directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. (The law still remains in effect.) The 1996 statute bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Two months later, Navy officials directed chaplains to permit same-sex marriage ceremonies at military chapels in states that allow gay marriage. (The officials cited the impending repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which took effect in September.) By May, the Navy suspended the marriage directive after lawmakers warned the plan would violate federal law.

Summer brought a decision by the Presbyterian Church USA that opened the door for presbyteries in the mainline denomination to ordain practicing homosexuals. A few weeks later, New York became the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The new law-passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature-doubled the number of people eligible for gay marriage in the United States.

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