Gay service members are having their applications for same-sex spousal benefits refused in Texas because of the state constitution’s definition of marriage. As reported by the Associated Press on September 3, the Texas National Guard is refusing to process requests for benefits because of a conflict between Department of Defense policy and Texas law.
Major General John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military forces wrote a letter explaining why applications cannot be processed in the state. His main reason is because marriage in Texas is defined as between a man and a woman in the state’s constitution.
September 3 was the the first day benefits became available to all legally married spouses regardless of sexual orientation. Back in April, the Pentagon announced it would extend federal benefits to same-sex couples military personal and civilian defense employees. The announcement specifically stated:
“The Department of Defense remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs.”
But the state of Texas is challenging the decision on a state level and Nichols recommends that gay and lesbian couples go to a federal installation to apply making it evident that there is still a long way to go to ensure equal protection of LGBT military families across all 50 states.