Major General John Nichols has written to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott seeking guidance on how to reconcile the Federal regulations that give spousal benefits to military same-sex couples. Abbott, who is vehemently anti-gay, is unlikely to give Nichols a decent answer on the question.
Abbot recently attacked the newly passed San Antonio ordinance protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination by claiming that it was about same-sex marriage.
Nichols has been refusing to process applications by married LGBT Texas Military Force members with regards to spousal benefits, instead sending them to federal military installations, some of which are hours away from where the soldiers are based.
Nichols has backed up his claim with the Texas Constitution which declares that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. Unfortunately for both Nichols and Abbott, federal law trumps state law.
Making matters worse, the National Guard, of which the Texas Military Force is a part of, must obey regulations and orders from the Pentagon. During the debate over the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Virginia tried to pass their own version of the law only to be informed that they would lose all funding from their units if they followed through.
Abbott is threatening to sue San Antonio for passing their nondiscrimination ordinance, a suit that is likely to go nowhere fast.
Texas is one of three states where the National Guard is refusing to follow the Pentagon’s regulations.
Nichols might be able to get a better answer if he contacted US Attorney General Eric Holder for advice.