6 States Defy Pentagon on Gay Military Benefits

Couples being forced to travel to federal bases to get ID card needed for benefits

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 11, 2013 7:00 AM CST | Updated Nov 11, 2013 7:43 AM CST

(Newser) – In 44 states, the gay spouse of an active-duty National Guard member can register for a military spouse ID card at his or her partner's base and begin getting federal marriage benefits. But in six states, it's not so easy. As the New York Times explains, bases in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia haven't followed the Pentagon's order regarding benefits, and instead have instructed couples to travel (often long distances to) federal bases to get the ID. Their logic: The National Guard units are state agencies that have to adhere to state laws—like gay marriage bans.

Says Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin: Sending gay military 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." The Times recounts the story of one couple whose registration for benefits was rejected at Camp Mabry in Austin, with officials there suggesting the pair head to Fort Hood, which is 70 miles away. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says such a policy "causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice"—while breaking federal law.

A Soldier wearing an Army t-shirt holds flags during the gay pride parade Saturday, July 21, 2012, in San Diego.
A Soldier wearing an Army t-shirt holds flags during the gay pride parade Saturday, July 21, 2012, in San Diego.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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