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After confusion over Texas National Guard policy on same-sex spousal benefits, state offers clarification that benefits will be allowed

DOMA trials Marriage equality

Texas state sealAccording to reports, Texas’ National Guard will process spousal benefits for same-sex couples. The state had initially declined to do so. Then, another recent report had suggested that Texas would follow Oklahoma’s view of the policy and deny all benefits, forcing same-sex and opposite-sex couples to apply for spousal benefits at federal facilities.

The Washington Blade has the news:

After initially resisting a Pentagon directive to enroll the same-sex spouses of troops into its benefit programs, the Texas National Guard announced on Tuesday that it has come to an agreement that will allow it to process applications for gay service members.

In a statement on Tuesday, Texas Military Forces said the Defense Department has approved a new procedure in which the Pentagon will provide federal personnel, funding and the use of federal personnel systems to enroll the spouses of all troops — gay and straight — into the benefit system.

The benefits will be available at all installations:

Jennifer Atkinson, a Texas National Guard spokesperson, confirmed that same-sex couples are now able to apply for spousal benefits at all installations within the state.

“Couples can now apply at Texas bases — including Camp Mabry — since the Department of Defense (DoD) directed the enrollment of same-sex spouses effective Sept. 3, 2013, we have worked diligently with the Pentagon and the National Guard Bureau to find a solution that would allow us to follow Texas state law while adhering to DoD policy,” Atkinson said.

Conflicting reports on this story abound, and circumstances might change.

4 Comments

  • 1. Lymis  |  November 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Am I correctly seeing that they are saying that everyone can get the benefits at Texas state bases, as long as federal personnel process them?

    Someone needs to be watching to make sure that state personnel are NOT processing straight applications and there are absolutely no delays or substandard treatment – "The only person who is allowed to process your request is off today, even though there are a dozen of us here doing the paperwork for the straight people, you'll have to come back tomorrow…."

    And sue them into the stone age if there is.

  • 2. JayJonson  |  November 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I love this paragraph from the Washington Blade article: "An LGBT advocate, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the purported change announced by the Texas Military Forces is a “crock” because federal funds and systems were already being used to enroll spouses in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. The announced change, the advocate said, is a way for Texas Military Forces to save face as it acquiesced to the Pentagon’s demands."

    I suspect they decided to avoid a lawsuit from Lambda Legal that they knew they would lose.

  • 3. Sagesse  |  November 28, 2013 at 4:26 am

    As I understand it, there are two pieces to this, and the second one is often overlooked in reporting on the issue for some reason. The first step is signing up as a couple to be eligible for benefits. Once the sign up is complete, many benefits, particularly the financial ones, just flow. There are other benefits that are 'delivered' on base… shopping at the commissary, housing, spouse and couple support services…. Does anyone know whether those services will be delivered to same-sex married couples at National Guard bases in, say, Texas?

  • 4. RobW303  |  November 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

    They haven't been in at least one state which (finally) agreed to accept applications from SSCs. Sorry that I can't remember which state, but this was reported recently.

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