Two states are refusing to process requests for benefits from same-sex couples despite Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s direct order requiring the military to treat all marriages equally. Hagel’s memo to the military came less than two months after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and paved the way for married same-sex couples to receive the same benefits as married heterosexual couples.
The Texas National Guard announced Wednesday that it would not provide benefits to same-sex couples because the Texas Constitution defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. In an internal memo, Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, explained that last week’s announcement went against Texas’ law. He added that his agency would not deny benefits to same-sex couples, but said that instead they would not process applications forms from same-sex couples.
Nichols wrote that the Texas Military Forces “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.”
Mississippi National Guard spokesman Tim Powell also cited his state’s constitution as a reason to go against the federal directive. “It is our intent to provide benefits and services to our men and women in uniform and at the same time abide by federal and state statutes,” Powell said.
Texas and Mississippi appear to be the only states at the moment that refuse to process benefits applications for same-sex military families. National Guard agencies in Oklahoma and Wisconsin, two states that have also banned same-sex marriage, have announced they will treat requests from same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples.