Texas National Guard Amends Policy For Same-Sex Couples
The Texas National Guard and the state's other military forces will begin issuing benefits to the same-gender spouses of guard members after the Department of Defense approved a procedure to do so.
The Texas Military Forces, which is the organization that oversees all of the Texas National Guard units, claimed the state could not process applications for dependent benefits because of Texas's law banning recognition of same-sex marriages.
The umbrella organization announced Tuesday, however, that federal personnel will now handle the paperwork, which removes the conflict with state laws, the Associated Press reports.
"We're going to go back to business as usual. It will be full service," Texas Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a Texas Guard spokeswoman, told the San Antonio Express-News Tuesday after the announcement was released.
The Pentagon approved the new procedure for enrolling National Guard members and their dependents in benefits programs. The five National Guard facilities that were previously closed to same-sex couples will now be available.
Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association welcomed the change after the organization shared some concern over the process.
"All military spouses, regardless of orientation, or gender, deserve to be treated with the same dignity, respect, and support for their sacrifices in support of our nation, no matter what state they serve in," he said. "We urge the remaining states who have not yet complied with the Department of Defense policy to do so quickly and affirm their commitment to all military families.
Last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asked the head of the National Guard to investigate how these states (including Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina) could obstruct gay and lesbian couples' exercise of their rights.
"Not only does this violate the states' obligation under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they're entitled to," he said in October.