Okla. Governor Denies National Guard Benefits to All Married Couples
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said she would sue the federal government if she had to provide National Guard benefits to same-sex couples; but rather than going through the hassle of filing a lawsuit, she decided on Wednesday to ban benefits for ALL married couples.
According to Tulsa, Okla.’s KRMG radio station, Fallin announced the state will no longer provide spousal benefits to any married couple that works at any state-owned National Guard facility, regardless of sexual orientation.
Fallin’s decision goes against an order issued by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who gave his order after the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act this summer.
"Oklahoma law is clear," she said. "The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people."
Hagel has responded to Fallin and says he will fight the move in order to bring equal rights to all families of the National Guard.
"All spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them," Hagel said last month. "But several states today are refusing to issue these IDs to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities. Not only does this violate the state’s obligations under federal law, but their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to."
Oklahoma does not recognize marriage equality. Nevertheless, after the SCOTUS’ ruling last summer, and Hagel’s order, same-sex couples who were married in a state that has legalized gay marriage, can obtain federal benefits.