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Valley Public Radio Staff
Wed September 4, 2013
Texas, Mississippi National Guard Won't Process Same-Sex Claims
Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 2:39 pm
The Texas and Mississippi National Guards are refusing to process benefits claims for same-sex couples, despite a Department of Defense directive to the contrary.
Maj. Gen. John Nichols, commander of the Texas forces, made the announcement Tuesday, saying the state's Family Code conflicts with the Defense directive that was issued last month in response to a Supreme Court decision striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
"Due to this potential conflict, we are unable to enroll same-sex families ... at our state-supported facilities until we receive legal clarification," Nichols said.
Mississippi National Guard spokesman Tim Powell, quoted by The Associated Press, says the main factor in determining where same-sex spouses can apply for benefits came down to the property owner. He said only National Guard offices on federal property would accept the applications in Mississippi, which also constitutionally bans gay marriage.
Nichols said the Texas Guard "remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation."
The directive issued by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel went into effect Tuesday, and that's the first day either state would have accepted same-sex claims.
A spokesman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the Texas Military Forces must obey state law.
The National Guard Bureau, the federal agency that administers the state guards, says it's aware of the Texas policy.
Jon Anderson, a spokesman for the bureau, says: "The National Guard Bureau will continue to coordinate with the State of Texas and the Department of Defense regarding a resolution to this important matter."