Gay Issues

Oklahoma Stops Issuing National Guard Marriage Benefits To Avoid Helping Same-Sex Couples

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced that the state will not being processing marriage benefits for opposite or same-sex couples at state-owned National Guard facilities to avoid recognizing same-sex marriages.

While Oklahoma owns more of the National Guard training centers and armories in the state, these facilities were built almost entirely with federal funds, Tulsa World reported. The state budget for the Oklahoma Military Department, including the National Guard, is 90 percent funded by the federal government.

The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act during the summer, making same-sex spouses eligible for federal benefits. Some states, in defiance of the Pentagon order from Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, are refusing to serve same-sex couples and send them to federal-owner military bases to apply for benefits. Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are sending couples, often far away, to federal bases to register for a military spouse ID card.

In Oklahoma, however, state facilities won’t serve any military spouses and all will be referred to federally-owned facilities.

“Oklahoma law is clear,” Fallin said in a statement earlier this month. “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."

"The governor is sending the message that Oklahoma desires to be an island of prejudice and continues to uphold laws crafted out of fear and drafted by bigots and hypocrites,” said Toby Jenkins, executive director of Oklahomans for Equality. "Once again she has insulted our citizen soldiers who daily stand in harm's way for the people of Oklahoma.”

Sources: Tulsa World, KRMG, ThinkProgress