Obama admin. threatens states that refuse same-sex ‘marriage’ benefits for the National Guard
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 27, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – During a speech in October, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel slammed the decision by some U.S. states to defy a Pentagon directive ordering states that do not recognize same-sex “marriage” to process spousal benefits for gay members of the National Guard. He also threatened further legal action against those states.
Since then, six of the nine states that initially resisted the directive have caved in to the Pentagon’s demands, including Texas, which had been the first to announce its intention to buck the order. Texas cut a deal with the DOD late Tuesday allowing homosexuals to apply for benefits at state-owned military facilities as long as the federal government provided extra staff and funding to handle those requests.
But according to Michael Boldin, Executive Director of the Tenth Amendment Center, which studies conflicts between the federal government and the states, the Constitution is on the states’ side. Boldin told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that if the federal government wants to browbeat dissenting states into agreeing to process benefit applications for homosexual couples at state-owned facilities, they will likely have do it the same way they did in Texas – by agreeing to provide all the personnel and funding needed to handle those requests.
“[The federal government] cannot … require state employees, acting under the purview of powers reserved to the States under the Constitution - to do this for the federal government,” Boldin told LSN via e-mail. “They also can't require those states to absorb the costs. Not one penny.”
The Pentagon expanded spousal benefits for Guard members in September to include same-sex partners who “married” in states where the practice is legal. These partners are now eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by traditionally married couples in the Guard.
The expansion was ordered after the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June and ruled that the federal government must recognize same-sex “marriages” performed in the growing number of states where marriage has been redefined to include homosexual couples.
Although twenty-nine states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex “marriage,” no state has threatened to deny benefits to homosexual couples who receive federal government approval.
However, several states have refused to process applications or issue ID cards for gay couples at state-owned Guard facilities, citing state laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In these states, homosexual couples may still apply for benefits at federally-owned military installations, but both gay activists and Obama administration officials have claimed this is discriminatory because it means homosexual Guard members might have to drive further from home to get their benefits processed.
“This is wrong,” said Hagel, in a speech to the liberal Anti-Defamation League in October. “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.”
In a statement this week, the Texas Military Forces explained their decision to partially cave to Hagel’s demands, saying: “The Department of Defense has approved a new procedure for enrolling National Guard members and their dependents in benefits programs. 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.”
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Texas Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, told the San Antonio Express-News, “We're going to go back to business as usual. It will be full service.”
Only three states are still standing firm in their opposition to the federal decree – Oklahoma, Louisiana and Georgia.
In Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallon ordered state-owned Guard facilities to stop processing all requests for military spousal benefits, whether gay or straight. Now, all applications for spousal benefits must be made at federal installations.
“Oklahoma law is clear,” Fallon said of her decision. “The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.”
“The new policy treats all Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and others eligible for benefits exactly the same,” Col. Max E. Moss, director of media relations, told KFOR. “Oklahoma National Guard federal employees won’t process benefits for some and exclude others.”
Both Louisiana and Georgia have continued to process benefits for traditionally married couples while referring homosexual couples to federally-owned facilities.
After Hagel’s public threats in late October, Georgia Department of Defense spokesman Joseph Quimby released a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution saying the state intended to continue defying the Pentagon’s order.
“The State of Georgia does not recognize same sex marriages and is not authorizing the Georgia National Guard to process the applications for same-sex married benefits at state facilities,” Quimby said. “Any personnel seeking to apply for same-sex married benefits will be referred to federal facilities.”
While the Obama administration and the Pentagon are no doubt putting heavy pressure on the three remaining holdouts, it is unclear under what legal authority the federal government might be able to force a state to comply with a directive that violates its own Constitution.
In Oklahoma, Fallon spokesman Alex Weintz criticized federal officials for overstepping their bounds. “The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage,” said Weintz. “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.”
Weintz urged President Obama to “stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda.”