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Florida, Oklahoma Making Life Difficult For Their National Guards

Florida_svgAs expected, those opposed to same-sex marriage are busy doing what they can to undermine the US Supreme Court’s decision declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. In several states, this has taken the form of resistence to military spousal benefits for same-sex couples in the National Guard.

In Florida,
Attorney General Pam Bondi has refused to offer an opinion as to whether or not the Florida National Guard can process the benefits enrollment papers for the spouses of LGBT troops on state property.

Major General Emmett R. Titshaw Jr, the adjutant general for the Florida National Guard, sought clarification on the subject back at the beginning of September because the state has a ban on same-sex marriage.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerry Hammond wrote to Titshaw to say that the request “provided insufficient information about the connection between the newly announced policy of the United States Secretary of Defense and your official duties as the head of the Florida Department of Military Affairs.” Hammond stated that Titshaw needs to do his own analysis on the subject and then explain to the attorney general’s office exactly what is required of the Florida National Guard and “how any obligations imposed on you by the federal government might conflict with your duties under state law.”

Meanwhile, same-sex spouses of Florida National Guard troops can obtain their benefits by enrolling at any federally owned base. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James Evans, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard, stated that “The Florida National Guard is required to accept and process same-sex benefit applications at any federal facility managed by federal employees. In a state facility, we are standing by for state legal guidance. We are coordinating with the attorney general’s office to provide required documentation to facilitate the legal review.”

oklahoma-svg1Meanwhile, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is kowtowing to the voters of her state back in 2004. According to her spokesman, Alex Weintz, the governor is following the wishes of those voters and does not care about the voters of today, or about the fact that she is punishing patriotic Americans who have chosen to sever in the Oklahoma National Guard.

Fallin’s office has ordered the National Guard to stop processing spousal benefits requests for LGBT members of the National Guard despite the Pentagon’s order to do so.

Weintz stated that “Because of that prohibition, Gov. Fallin’s general counsel has advised the National Guard not to process requests for benefits of same-sex couples. Gay couples that have been legally married in other states will be advised they can apply for those benefits on federal facilities, such as Tinker Air Force Base, rather than state run facilities.”

According to Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Max Moss, the benefits requests have been processed just like any others since 5 September, that is until Fallin decided to punish patriotic soldiers by banning them from getting their paperwork processed at National Guard facilities.

According ot Moss, they will not inform those applying for benefits for a same-sex spouse how they will obtain them. He stated that “If we have a situation where we have a soldier who’s in a same-sex marriage, we’re going to explain to that soldier how they can go about acquiring those benefits. At this point, that’s directing them to a federal facility. We want our soldiers to have all the benefits to which they’re entitled to.”

Stephen Peters, the president of the American Military Partner Association, stated that “Since the governor of Oklahoma has decided to join Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana in playing politics with our military families, we need immediate and decisive action from the administration and the defense department in affirming that all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation, will be treated equally.”

The decision may end up being costly for those states that resist. During the debate over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it was pretty well established that the Pentagon would pull funding from any National Guard outfit that did not comply with directives coming out of the Defense Department.



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