Texas National Guard backs down and will now process benefits for same-sex families
Federal personnel will oversee paperwork of Texas National Guard troops and their same-sex spouses
The Texas National Guard will no longer block same-sex spouses from using state facilities to have benefit paperwork processed.
Since September, state officials ignored a US Department of Defense directive to provide benefits to the families of gay military personnel.
Texas Military Forces commanders cited the state ban on gay marriage as the reason why applications for lesbian, gay, and/or bisexual troops could not be filed.
This week, the state reversed course.
‘We’re going to go back to business as usual. It will be full service,’ Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a Texas Guard spokeswoman, told the San Antonio Express-News on 26 November, according to CBS News.
A statement issued by the Texas Guard explained only federal workers will manage the benefits docume of gay military personnel.
‘The new procedure essentially recognizes the conflict between the Texas Constitution and DOD policy mandating the enrollment of same-gender dependent spouses in benefits programs,’ the statement said, according to CBS.
Lambda Legal praised Texas for its new position. The gay rights organization represents Alicia Butler, the wife of First Lt. Judith Chedville. This past September the couple, who are married, attempted to apply for benefits at Camp Mabry in Austin.
Although Chedville is a member of the National Guard, having served in Iraq and Kuwait, the pair were told they would need to drive to a federal office, three hours away, to complete the application.
Lambda Legal sent a letter to commanding officer of the Texas Military Forces requesting the state adhere to Defense Department regulations
‘Texas Military Forces implements a host of federal benefits programs for all National Guard units in the state and it should be no different for married same-sex couples,’ Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Paul Castillo said in a statement.
The National Guard is a reserve military composed of units from each state. The majority of Guard troops have full-time civilian jobs while serving in the military part time.