Rogue States Refuse To Obey Pentagon Order Over Gay Spousal Benefits

Despite direct orders from the Pentagon, several states said yesterday that they will continue to deny ID cards to gay spouses at state militias.

Reuters reports:

PentagonThe resistance put the Pentagon on a collision course with states that have rejected a Defense Department request, first issued in September, for identity cards to be issued to same-sex spouses so they can begin receiving benefits due to married couples.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the Republican head of the National Governors Association, called on President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to "stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda," her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said in a statement on Friday.

"The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions," Weintz said.

Josh Havens, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, said, "Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman."

Those Republican-led states are Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Earlier this week The Indiana National Guard reversed it's decision to not issue ID cards to same-sex spouses explaining that “the decision was never made to not process benefits, rather the decision was delayed in order to fully understand the impacts while service members serve in different pay categories.”

On Thursday night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a stern order to those states.

Like Perry, Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is one of those who has resisted. The Mississippi Business Journal reports:

Bryant says he does not have the constitutional authority to lift the ban. “The Mississippi Constitution clearly defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and expressly prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions,” Bryant said through a spokesman.

Georgia has issued a similar statement: "The State of Georgia does not recognize same sex marriages and is not authorizing the Georgia National Guard to process the applications for same-sex married benefits at state facilities. Any personnel seeking to apply for same-sex married benefits will be referred to federal facilities."


  1. ToThePoint says

    Time to determine the constitutionality of state bans because all of the states used a voter referendum to outlaw a civil right, which is patently wrong and simple minded. You know what the outcome would have been if past civil-rights fights had been put to a popular vote, given the majority of white males (of which I am not a proud member) prefer to keep themselves in control of everyone’s lives.

  2. Nick says

    I’d like to profusely thank these several states because, without even realizing it, what they are doing will get us to 50 state equality all that much more quickly!

    So, thanks hate-states!

  3. rroberts says

    @Simon … I don’t believe President Obama has the authority here. My hunch is that, again, it will be a matter for SCOTUS. I think @Nick is right in that this could lead to 50-state equality a lot sooner IF the higher-ups at the Pentagon, etc., are able to take it directly to SCOTUS.

    Would really like to hear from Ari Ezra Waldman on this. Ari? Are you there?

  4. Robert says

    @RRoberts … Actually the federal government DOES have some authority here. While each state’s governor is the head of their NG in their state when push comes to shove the President CAN Federalize the NG. It happened during the Selma March in the ’50’s. The Alabama Governor at that time refused to call up his Guard units to protect the marchers so Johnson Federalized the Units and called them up himself. The NG ultimately falls under the authority of the Pentagon.

    @Simon … The President and Hagel DO have options on the table. IMHO, I think the Administration should go via the angle of “Well you don’t want to follow a federal directive yet you recieve federal funding for your units? Guess what? If you are THAT adamant about it then you can fund your units on your own. ALL Federal funding will be removed for your “state” facilities”(yes.. The fed does fund a percentage of these “state” facilities.) If the don’t like that the government could always (via the agreements that these states have with the federal government for providing troops, etc.)sieze those “state” facilities but THAT would be a drastic last ditch move.

    The Pentagon has said it has several options that will pretty much force the states into compliance. Right now they are trying to be nice. This is just a case of the Repubs digging in their heals and saying “No, No, No” to progress. We now have to see how tough Hagel and Obama are going to get with these recalcitrant states.

  5. oncemorewithfeeling says

    Indeed, these states are getting us marriage equality across the nation faster than it’s happening already. Where else do they think this is headed — that we’re going to live in a nation where some citizens just simply don’t have the same rights as others without any pretense about that agenda at all? Game’s over, crazies!

    It’s already become beyond bizarre to hear Republicans in state primaries claiming their opponents don’t hate gays enough. That used to be the status quo, like it or not, but now it just sounds flat-out insane. And it’s hysterical that they’re now forced to admit that they hate the troops they claim they love!

    Every heel they dig in with their bigotry brings us one step closer to nation-wide marriage equality. And once that happens and “god” doesn’t end the world and, in fact, nothing happens at all, then what will they do?

    Winning is fun.

  6. enough already says

    Actually, federal funding for the National Guard far exceeds state funding.
    And, all of these haters are states which get hit hard with bad weather.
    So – end all federal funding to anything in those states even remotely involved with the NG. Then watch them suffer a dose of their own christian hatred.

  7. Fox says

    I agree. This could bring full equality faster, because I think it’s comparable to colleges and universities that were receiving federal funding and weren’t complying with Title IX non-discrimination policies. And it won’t even be necessary to have lengthy court trials over, like in Title IX cases where the federal government had to provide evidence. Here, the outright denial of benefits to same-sex couple is proof enough.

    I’d say pull all federal funding. Or at least pull all funding that goes to any spousal benefit programs.

  8. patrick says

    the next time there is a major tornado in Oklahoma, there will gay guardsmen coming to the aid of the same people who treat them like 2nd class people. oh the irony!

  9. Jay says

    Don’t want to comply? No federal funds to your NG and Air NG. Go buy your own tanks, planes, materiel and so forth. Oh and the Feds want THEIR stuff back!

  10. Steve says

    They don’t have a case. This has nothing to do with state law. The federal guard is under authority of Congress, has to follow federal law and is nearly entirely federal funded. The people, the buildings and the equipment used to process this benefits were paid for the by the federal government. What’s more, the benefits themselves are federal.

    The idea that the NG is some private state army is just naive BS. They get to play with the toys a bit, but they don’t belong to them in any way.

    And if there is a conflict between state law and federal law, federal law wins. It’s called the Supremacy Clause.

  11. Geoff says

    Breaking the law is…well, breaking the law. This will assure quicker action! Yay!! Stupidity and bigotry will be their downfall. Federal laws win. One hopes they’ll secede, but even they know – it would leave those states with NOTHING! Har! Pass the popcorn!

  12. says

    Withhold ALL Federal funding those states until they fall in line.

    Because here’s a dirty little secret. Those “Tea Party” states that always b!tch about where “mah tax dollars is going” take more federal dollars than they put in.

    Wanna secede? Good luck with that, you buncha moochers, because other states have been supporting your @$$ for YEARS!

  13. johnny says

    Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and U.S. Treaties as “the supreme law of the land.” The text provides that these are the highest form of law in the U.S. legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either the state constitution or state law of any state.

    OK, idiot governors… what part of that don’t you understand?

  14. johnny says

    It’s pretty amazing that these stupid elected officials will stubbornly refuse to follow the law and orders from the Pentagon over something like this. I can’t imagine the number of people that are actually eligible for these benefits anyway, it can’t be very high.

    Hate knows no bounds, apparently.

  15. Burt says

    These Governors have declared the National Guard, or Militias, or whatever they want to call them, to be State Agencies. Fine. The Feds need to shut off the money, flow of weapons, and all the other military toys they receive. Also make them either pay rent for the facilities they occupy or buy them. Now.

  16. Gregory in Seattle says

    Willful refusal to obey a direct order from a superior officer…. that is a very, very serious offense. It is time for the Pentagon to call a court martial and bring the state commanders to give account of their actions.

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