Same-sex Couples Denied Benefits by the Texas National Guard
Same-sex spouses in Texas are not being allowed to enroll for military benefits in state-supported Guard facilities, at least for now, because Defense Department policy may conflict with Texas law, which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, according to the state’s adjutant general.
Spouses in Texas and elsewhere are able to enroll for these benefits at federal facilities.
In an Aug. 30 memo, Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said until legal clarification is provided, officials are unable to enroll same-sex families for benefits at state-supported facilities.
“It is important to note, this is not a denial of benefits, but rather a processing issue that is currently awaiting legal clarification from the Texas State Attorney General’s Office,” said Laura Lopez, a spokeswoman for Texas Military Forces. She said Texas Military Forces officials have been working closely with the governor’s office and attorney general’s office for the past few weeks on the issue.
There are five state-supported Guard facilities and 20 federal installations in Texas, Lopez said.
Under a Texas state law that took effect Sept. 1, 2003, “a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union is contrary to the public policy of this state and is void in this state.” The law also prohibits any right or claim to any legal protection, benefit or responsibility as a result of a same-sex marriage or civil union.
“It’s truly outrageous that the state of Texas has decided to play politics with our military families,” said Stephen Peters, the president of American Military Partner Association, in a statement. “Governor Rick Perry should be ashamed. Our military families are already dealing with enough problems and the last thing they need is more discrimination from the state of Texas.”
Nichols noted that “TXMF remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation.”