Texas National Guard Denies U.S. Military Benefits For Gay Couples
DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Alicia Butler had been looking forward to this day for months.
Today, the U.S. Defense Department began extending benefits to same sex spouses.
But when Butler went to the Texas National Guard facility at Camp Mabry in Austin to get enrolled in the system called Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System or DEERs, she couldn’t.
Butler says, “We’re told unfortunately the state of Texas at its facilities would not enroll me and even if I got enrolled somewhere else would not issue an I.D. card to me because we are a same-sex couple.”
Butler’s wife, Judith Chedville now serves in the Texas Army National Guard, one weekend every month and two weeks each year.
Chedville was activated in the Air National Guard back in 2003 and served in Iraq.
The Texas Military Forces, which oversee the Texas National Guard says the Defense Department’s policy differs with the Texas Constitution, which doesn’t recognize same sex marriages.
In a memo, the agency says, “…Due to this potential conflict, we are unable to enroll same-sex families into DEERs at our state supported facilities until we receive legal clarification…”
The agency says it’s been working with the Governor’s Office and the Texas Attorney General’s Office and is awaiting an answer from the Attorney General’s Office.
Texas Military Forces says it’s not denying Butler benefits, and says it’s just a processing issue.
Butler says, “It’s just a little vindictive, petty way of saying we don’t like who you are. And that does not feel good.”
Colby Vokey, a Lt. Col. was a Judge Advocate for 21 years before he retired from the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I think they’re wrong.”
Vokey says the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last June requires the military, including the Texas National Guard, to extend these benefits. “They manage national guard forces, therefore they must follow Department of Defense policies. They can’t simply because Texas doesn’t recognize those kinds of marriages, they can’t simply say we’re not going to play.”
For now, the Texas Military Forces is telling Butler to go to a federal facility like Fort Hood to apply.
Butler says, “We have to plan time off from work. We have to figure out what to do with our 5 month old who can’t handle 3 hours in the car.”
We contacted the Attorney General’s Office seeking comment, but we haven’t heard back.
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