Just as the United States military began to provide gay spouses the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, the Texas National Guard announced that it will turn same-sex husbands and wives away from state facilities.
Texas Military Forces issued a statement saying that gay spouses must seek support directly from the federal government because the state will not directly provide benefits.
According to the memo, “The TXMF is a state agency under the authority and direction of the Texas state government. Therefore, the TXMF must consider that the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code 6.204 conflicts with the DoD policy extending benefits to same-sex spouses. Due to this potential conflict, we are unable to enroll same-sex families into DEERs at our state supported facilities until we receive legal clarification. However, the TXMF remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we courage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation.”
Attorney Alicia Butler learned of the policy firsthand when she tried to register for health benefits she should legally receive based on her marriage to Iraq war veteran and current National Guard member Judith Chedville.
According to the Washington Blade, Butler said, “We were told that Texas would not register us into the system and would not issue an ID card for me. We were told that if she was active duty they would do that for me, but not for a National Guard member.”
Like other same-sex spouses, Butler was referred to a federal facility, even though the closest one is an hour and a half from her home.
Jeremy Johnson, co-chair of the military LGTB group SPART*A, weighed in on the state’s decision, saying, “The Department of Defense no longer discriminates against same-sex military families and instead embraces them as an important part of the support structure for uniformed members. This announcement by Texas Military Forces makes clear that that they are either unwilling or incapable of doing the same.”