Texas Defies Pentagon, Withholds Spousal Benefits for Gay Troops
Today is the day that the U.S. military begins offering partner benefits to troops with same-sex spouses, but not all agencies are complying with the orders which were delivered in a memo on August 13.
The Texas Military Forces are withholding the benefits based on Texas' law banning same-sex marriage, the Washington Blade reports:
Alicia Butler, an Austin, Texas, attorney, said she was rejected when she tried to register with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS, the military’s health benefits system, when she applied on Tuesday at Camp Mabry, where her spouse, Judith Chedville, a nurse and Iraq war veteran, is stationed as a member of the National Guard.
“We were told that Texas would not register us into the system and would not issue an ID card for me,” Butler said. “We were told that if she was active duty they would do that for me, but not for a National Guard member because she’s part of the Texas National Guard.”
The benefits include military IDs, health, pension, and housing, but according to reports guidance has been issued and gays and their spouses are being told they must seek out a federal facility:
Butler said she was denied benefits as the American Military Partners Association, an LGBT military group, says it was leaked apparent guidance indicating that Texas Military Forces, or the Texas National Guard, wouldn’t honor the U.S. armed forces’ plan to begin offering partner benefits to gay troops because the Texas Constitution prohibits same-sex marriage.
“The TXMF is a state agency under the authority and direction of the Texas state government,” the apparent guidance states. “Therefore, the TXMF must consider that the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code 6.204 conflicts with the DoD policy extending benefits to same-sex spouses. Due to this potential conflict, we are unable to enroll same-sex families into DEERs at our state supported facilities until we receive legal clarification.”