In a landmark decision last June, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). All the regulations in the federal government including the military that treated same-sex couples differently were deemed unconstitutional by that Court ruling. Republican Governors in eight southern states plus Indiana, however, have defied the Supreme Court and the Pentagon forcing the National Guard to continue discriminating.
Following that decision the federal government began revising all regulations that discriminated against same-sex couples who were legally married in states that allow marriage equality. The military provided same-sex spouses ID’s so they could receive the benefits to which they are entitled under the law including shopping privileges at the PX, and health care benefits.
Even though each state has a National Guard and the Governor uses the title “commander-in-chief” of that state’s Guard, the Guard is actually part of the armed forces of the United States of America, and the president is their actual Commander-In-Chief. National Guard troops were called to active duty in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Despite Sarah Palin’s claim that she had “experience as commander-in-chief” of the Alaska Guard in Iraq, they were never under her command.
On many occasions, the President of the United States has “nationalized” the Guard in various states over the vehement objections of the governor. This happened often during the Civil Rights movement when presidents nationalized the Guard in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama to enforce constitutional rights of that state’s citizens.
Fire breathing segregationist governors like Orville Faubus, George Wallace, and Ross Barnett stepped aside when the National Guard of their state, under direction of the president, integrated schools and forced registrars to allow black citizens to vote in their states.
Governors in those days respected the Constitution and the Supreme Court. It seems that many Republican Governors today have no such respect for the Constitution or rule of law. No Christian white Republican should take have to take orders from a black guy, they believe.
Last week Defense Secretary Hagel ordered the National Guards in all states to issue ID cards that enable same-sex spouses of military members to claim benefits. Hagel announced his decision said in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League in New York on Thursday.
"This is wrong. Not only does this violate the states’ obligations under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to.”
Hagel instructed General Frank Grass, who heads the National Guard, to meet with the state leaders of the Guard in the nine rogue states to resolve the issue. A senior defense official said that Hagel is prepared "to take further action" if the states do not comply, according to The Hill.
Texas Governor Perry indicated he was going to defy Secretary Hagel. “The Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such, is obligated to adhere to the Texas constitution and the laws of this state, which clearly define marriage as between one man and one women,” Perry spokesman Josh Havens said.
A spokesman for Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Mary Fallin said President Obama was “seeking to usurp the power of the states” and undermine governors’ authority.
“Her priority is to obey and protect Oklahoma’s laws while supporting the men and women of the Guard,” Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said. “The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions.”
Perhaps Texas will finally make good on its threat to secede since it worked out so well last time. It appears we may be headed for a Constitutional crisis and a showdown over states rights. It may take the U.S. military to enforce constitutional rights in these rogue states just like the 60s—both 60s. Stay tuned.