The Texas National Guard has said it will not process requests for benefits submitted by same-sex couples, despite a directive from the Pentagon requiring the military to do so.
The commanding general of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), Maj. Gen. John Nichols, said in an internal memo the TXMF is a state agency that falls “under the authority and direction of the Texas state government.” Since the Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman, Nichols said the TXMF can’t issue benefits to same-sex couples.
“Due to this potential conflict, we are unable to enroll same-sex families into DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) at our state supported facilities until we receive legal clarification,” Nichols said in an Aug. 30 memo obtained by TheBlaze.
Nichols advised same-sex couples “affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation.”
However, Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association, told the Washington Blade that because the TXMF receives federal funding, it must provide benefits to same-sex couples as directed by the Pentagon.
“It’s simply disgusting that Gov. [Rick] Perry would try to play politics with our military families,” said Peters. “Considering the far majority of the funding for Texas Guard facilities comes form the federal government, I don’t believe they have a leg to stand on.”
A spokeswoman for Perry (R) would not comment about the federal funding the TXMF receives, but told TheBlaze in a statement Wednesday that TXMF must comply with state law.
“Texas Military Forces must adhere with Texas law and the Texas Constitution, which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman,” Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.
Last month, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memorandum to the military directing them to begin providing military benefits to same sex couples, following a landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down a major provision in the Defense of Marriage Act.
“It is now the Department’s policy to treat all married military personnel equally,” Hagel wrote in the Aug. 13 memo. “The Department will construe the words ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ to include same-sex spouses and marriages, and the Department will work to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.”
Tuesday was the first day same-sex couples were able to claim military benefits.
Florida, Michigan and Oklahoma all have bans on gay marriage, but their national guard units are accepting same-sex couples’ applications for benefits, according to Fox News.
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