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Texas National Guard refuses to process benefits requests from same-sex couples

They ignore Pentagon directive and cite state's ban on gay marriage

The Texas National Guard defied a Department of Defense directive to provide benefits to the spouses of  gay military personnel on Tuesday (3 September), the first day the benefits became available.

The commanding general of Texas Military Forces is citing a Texas state law which bans same-sex marriage as the reason why.

Maj. Gen. John Nichols, whose state agency oversees Texas' National Guard units, is encouraging the gay couples to instead enroll for benefits at one of the 22 bases in the state that are operated by the Department of Defense, according to the Associated Press.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office is backing up Nichols' stance.

There is a similar situation in Mississippi where applications are only being accepted at National Guard offices that are on federal property because of that state's ban on gay marriage.

But the AP reports that 13 other states that also ban gay marriage - including Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Georgia - are complying with the new federal policy.

It was just last month that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the spouses of gay military personnel would be getting the same benefits as those of heterosexual personnel.

The Pentagon is offering gay military personnel stationed in places without marriage equality leave in order to travel to another state to get married. It will also recognize same-sex marriages of service members even in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The US Supreme Court's decision in June to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act cleared the way for the Pentagon to offer the benefits to same-sex partners.

The benefits include health and pension previously unavailable under DOMA as well as housing benefits.

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