The National Guard is Still Trying to Extend Same-Sex Benefits to Five Southern States
The National Guard’s top officer said Tuesday that the number of states refusing to provide equal benefits to same-sex couples in guard units has dropped in recent weeks, but he promised to keep pushing until all states comply with Defense Department policies.
“We are adamant that same sex benefits will be equally extended,” just as they are to heterosexual couples in the guard, Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, who represents the guard on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Washington.
The issue came to a head recently in Texas, where a group that represents gay military spouses says the Texas National Guard is refusing to process a military housing allowance application for a same-sex couple, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Following a Supreme Court ruling that the federal government was required to recognize same-sex marriage, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in August ordered the U.S. military to extend equal benefits to all married couples. Nine states, however, refused to issue ID cards to same-sex spouses.
Grass said he has been working the phones with National Guard commanders nationwide, and the issue now persists only in five states: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia.
In places where state constitutions bar recognition of same-sex marriage, officials have found workarounds, such as establishing federal processing centers where all guard members apply for benefits.
“We’re going to find a solution, we’re going to make this fair,” Grass promised