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Mississippi Joins Texas in Refusing to Process Spousal Benefits for Gay Troops

Yesterday, Towleroad reported that Texas was refusing to comply with orders from the Pentagon to begin offering partner benefits to troops with same-sex spouses based on the state's law banning same-sex marriage.

MississippiNow Mississippi has joined them, saying it won't issue applications from state-owned offices, the AP reports:

Texas and Mississippi appeared to be the only two states limiting how and where same-sex spouses of National Guard members could register for identification cards and benefits, according to an Associated Press tally. Officials in 13 other states that also ban gay marriage — including Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Georgia — said Tuesday that they will follow federal law and process all couples applying for benefits the same.

Texas said it would not deny the benefits, they just needed to be collected from a federal office, an inconvenience of several hours travel for some service members and their families.

As far as Mississippi goes:

Mississippi National Guard spokesman Tim Powell said the main factor in determining where same-sex spouses could apply for benefits came down to the property owner. Powell said only National Guard offices on federal property would accept the applications in Mississippi, which also constitutionally bans gay marriage.

“It is our intent to provide benefits and services to our men and women in uniform and at the same time abide by federal and state statutes,” Powell said.

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Comments

  1. But when a hurricane blow through, they are ready to take the help of the National Guard.

    Posted by: Christopher | Sep 4, 2013 8:11:44 AM


  2. The armed forces are FEDERAL not STATE. Issue the benefits and knock the bigoted stuff the f**k off.

    Posted by: ChrisQ | Sep 4, 2013 8:18:37 AM


  3. Take away the funding. Simple as that then Texas would have to cough up their own funding for their Guards.

    Posted by: Macmantoo | Sep 4, 2013 8:26:39 AM


  4. Do we need any more reasons to never step foot inside Mississippi and Texas?

    Posted by: Joseph | Sep 4, 2013 8:26:45 AM


  5. Maybe you'd also like us to sit at the back of the bus?

    Posted by: Tristram | Sep 4, 2013 8:33:05 AM


  6. Might nice of MS to swoop in and establish, once again, that it is the worst state in the nation, even worse than TX.

    Posted by: BobN | Sep 4, 2013 8:34:52 AM


  7. Might nice of MS to swoop in and establish, once again, that it is the worst state in the nation, even worse than TX.

    Posted by: BobN | Sep 4, 2013 8:34:53 AM


  8. You can count on the GOPers here in Texas (and now in Mississippi) to f*ck up a wet dream, especially if it involves gay National Guard members. Does the US need further evidence why a national equality standard is needed to treat the LGBT community? This homophobic stance by "state offices" is ridiculous in the face of federal law affecting Guardsmen who can be called out to protect state citizens and property.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Sep 4, 2013 8:48:14 AM


  9. Willfully refusing to comply with a lawful order is a very, very serious offense. It would be nice to see the commanders of the National Guards in these states hung out to dry for this.

    Who wants to bet, though, that our Commander In Chief will let them get away with this?

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Sep 4, 2013 9:15:14 AM


  10. Short term pain could be long term gain. Denial of benefits in state locations in Texas and Mississippi may bring lawsuits that ultimately find the anti-equality amendments in those states unconstitutional.

    Right now neither state seems poised to undo their bigotry on their own. The lawsuits would be welcome.

    Posted by: Mitch | Sep 4, 2013 9:23:42 AM


  11. @ChrisQ: SOME armed forces, such as the National Guard, are STATE not FEDERAL. There is no United States National Guard (it's called the Army). Each state has it's own. Some will argue that the states get some federal funding for their NGs, but that is apparently not a sufficient argument since TX and MS are getting away with it. What they are doing is deplorable but legal.

    Posted by: Joseph | Sep 4, 2013 9:56:03 AM


  12. Joseph -- You are correct in stating that the National Guard is a state organization (but in certain circumstances under the control of the feds) This is not the first time there has been a state/federal conflict; IIRC a state governor tried to prevent units of his states NG from being deployed again in Iraq (Don't recall how that ended). I suspect the courts will end-up deciding this should the case come before them. The question of whether it is "legal" is the question they will be deciding. I'm pretty-sure the Feds will disagree with you and say that it is not. Time will tell.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Sep 4, 2013 10:01:55 AM


  13. Inform Mississippi and Texas that if they don't give the benefits locally, they will be nationalized by the President, who will force them to give the benefits locally.

    JFK knew how to handle this crap.

    Posted by: Ryan | Sep 4, 2013 10:03:45 AM


  14. @Joseph - State National Guards are part of the US military chain of command, and must obey lawfully issued orders.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Sep 4, 2013 10:23:35 AM


  15. If more states do this, it could actually be great for gay rights. It could be the case we need to take to the Supreme Court to end all state bans on same-sex marriage. Denying National Guards benefits seems like the type of thing Anthony Kennedy would not like. He was not willing to go all the way with Windsor, but this could finally push him to declare all anti-gay constitutional amendments invalid.

    Posted by: joeyhegele | Sep 4, 2013 10:24:36 AM


  16. Simple enough solution: the president can always federalize the National Guard in MS and TX and that's that. This is what happened in the integration problems in Arkansas in the 1960's. The governor called out the national guard to keep integration from happening at a public school, the Kennedy administration nationalized the troops the next day and those same guardsmen ESCORTED the kids in rather than keeping them out.

    Posted by: Craig | Sep 4, 2013 10:33:48 AM


  17. Well, you sign up and fight for American Freedoms, and then discover, if you live in Texas or Mississippi, those states say those freedoms don't apply to you? How do you say bullsh^t in polite company? Oh yes - so much BS! So very very much!

    Posted by: Elizabeth Jenkins | Sep 4, 2013 11:23:12 AM


  18. This is illegal. Cut off ALL federal funding to these parasitic INGRATES!

    Posted by: Sean | Sep 4, 2013 12:09:09 PM


  19. The National Guard has a very odd structure. Each state has its own milita, overseen by the state government (called the Texas Military Forces in Texas). And those organizations, or parts of them, are all also in the National Guard of the United States, a legally separate organization overseen by the federal government.

    So state benefits etc. are provided by the state organization, federal benefits are provided by the federal organization.

    What National Guard command structures are facing right now in these benighted states are state overseers who say "no gays" and federal overseers who say "no discrimination". What they are doing to handle this is sending all same-sex spouses to federal facilities in the state to get their federal IDs, which are then valid at all state facilities too. It's a getaround which is being forced on them by state governments, but it is a true getaround, and the command structures are doing their job.

    It's the GOP run state governments who are acting like petulant 10 year olds in the face of the Supreme Court's decision striking down DOMA. I hope the Court acts soon to stop this kind of intransigence.

    Posted by: E. Dallas | Sep 4, 2013 12:12:28 PM


  20. This is of course disgusting and not a surprise for the tragedies that are Texas and Mississippi. However, I agree with Mitch that this may turn out to be a good thing in the long term. There is no group of people more popular in the United States than members of the armed services, including the National Guard. Denying them benefits, or obstructing their obtaining benefits, will not sit well in court and could end up toppling anti-equality laws in these states.

    Posted by: Robert | Sep 4, 2013 12:33:04 PM


  21. I'm surprised the feds don't have offices in most locations. Benefits for NG'ers can be very confusing in any case since it's a mix of state and federal laws providing.

    Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2013 1:47:53 PM


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