Gay Issues

Six States Defy Pentagon Order On Gay Military Benefits

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Six states aren’t following the Pentagon order to process military marriage benefits for gay couples.

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, the New York Times reported Monday.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said last week that sending same-sex couples to federal bases “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.”

After the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court in June, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered all same-sex military spouses receive equal benefits as heterosexual spouses.

The six states cite conflict between state laws that do not recognize same-sex marriage. However, a West Virginia official told the Times the state intends to follow the order.

Hagel says the states are in violation of federal law.

“It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice,” he said during a recent speech.

Texas Army National Guard officer Judith Chedville and her wife Alicia Butler tried to get an ID card to register for marriage benefits, but Austin’s Camp Mabry sent the couple 70 miles away to Fort Hood.

While Texas officials say directing same-sex military spouses to federal bases is only a minor inconvenience, Butler said it was akin to “separate but equal” laws in the South.

“Sometimes it’s about the indignities you make people go through,” Butler said. “It’s a petty way to score political points.”

Sources: Newser, New York Times