Texas Guard refuses to process same-sex benefits - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Texas Guard refuses to process same-sex benefits

The Texas National Guard is refusing to allow same sex couples to sign up for federal benefits at state owned facilities like Camp Mabry. Commanders made that decision despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Legislation was passed at the state capitol in 2003 and again in 2005 to prevent any state agency from recognizing a same sex marriage or civil union. The state law remains on the books despite its federal counterpart being struck down in June.

With a California marriage license and a Supreme Court ruling Alicia Butler and Judith Chedville are now more than just roommates. But when Butler recently went to Camp Mabry to get a military ID card as the spouse of a uniformed military officer, the Texas National Guard turned her away.

"We had heard rumors that there might be some issue with the Texas National Guard but I didn't know for sure and honestly I just thought it was talk, said Butler.

The denial is based on a Texas Constitutional referendum approved by voters in 2005 defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

In a statement released to FOX 7 the Guard tried to explain its position stating, "The Texas Military Forces, which is a state agency under the authority and direction of the Texas state government, recognizes that the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code 6.204 conflict with the same-sex benefit Department of Defense policy change."

As a result the Guard, "will continue to follow state law until legal clarification is received from the Texas State Attorney General."

There is no indication when the Attorney General will issue an opinion regarding this issue. The local clerical impasse has become a national political issue.

"I think it might have taken the person on the computer five or 10 minutes to type in my information … but um apparently somebody wanted to make a point," said Butler.

According to the statement from the Guard, gay Soldiers and Airmen are not being denied any benefits, they are just being told they cannot process paperwork at Camp Mabry or any other state owned facility. But once they get their military ID, from a federal location, they can come on Post and have access to services available to military families.

That means Alicia and Judith, who recently had a baby, will have to travel to Fort Hood or to a federal military installation in San Antonio.

"So it really does require some juggling to get that worked out," said Butler.

For the couple, it's more than an inconvenience. It has become a cause.

"And if it's helped at all for me to let people know what happened then I'll feel good about that," said Butler.

Governor Rick Perry, who is a former air force pilot, remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

According to a statement from spokesperson Josh Havens: "As a state agency, Texas Military Forces must adhere with Texas law, and the Texas Constitution, which clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman."

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