© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas, Mississippi National Guard Won't Process Same-Sex Claims

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, pictured last month in Orlando, Fla., has said the Texas National Guard must follow state law despite a Department of Defense policy directive on same-sex marriage benefits.
Phelan M. Ebenhack

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."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.