Texas Guard Refuses to Process Same-Sex Benefits
The Texas National Guard refused to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits on Tuesday, citing the state constitution’s ban on gay marriage, despite a Pentagon directive to do so.
Pentagon officials said Texas appeared to be the only state that planned to turn gay and lesbian couples away on Tuesday, the first working day that gays in the military may apply for benefits. The Department of Defense had announced it would recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal following the U.S. Supreme Court decision throwing out the Defense of Marriage Act.
Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that because the Texas Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, his state agency couldn’t process applications from gay and lesbian couples. But he said the Texas National Guard, Texas Air Guard and Texas State Guard would not deny anyone benefits.
"However, the (Texas Military Forces) remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation," he advised service members. He then listed 22 bases operated by the Department of Defense in Texas where service members could enroll their families.
Governments in 19 states offer benefits for the same-sex partners of state employees, whether marriage is allowed or not.