Texas Won't Grant Some Gay Troops Benefits for Their Spouses
Texas is refusing to grant some gay troops benefits for their spouses, even though the Defense Department announced all legally married troops, gay or straight, could get those benefits starting Sept. 3. Texas Military Forces -- which includes the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and State National Guard -- is not accepting benefits applications from gay troops because the state constitution bans gay marriage. In a memo dated Aug. 30 -- as in, the last business day before couples were eligible to enroll on Monday -- TXMF announced that it was unable to enroll gay spouses due to the discrepancy between state and federal law.
Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of TXMF, said the forces are "a state agency under the authority and direction of the Texas state government" and, since same-sex marriage is illegal in Texas, "due to the potential conflict [between state and federal law], we are unable to enroll same-sex families ... at our state-supported facilities until we receive legal clarification."
But TXMF isn't waging total culture war against gay marriage. Gay troops in Texas still can get benefits, they just have to enroll on federal property, instead of state property. Instead of going to her local National Guard office, a lesbian troop go to, say, Fort Bliss to enroll her wife in health care and other military benefits.