Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Mississippi Joins Texas in Refusing to Process Spousal Benefits for Gay Troops

Mississippi - another paragon of bigotry, racism and Bible Belt hypocrisy - has joined Texas in refusing to process spousal benefits on state owned facilities, citing that state's animus inspired anti-gay constitutional amendment.   Given Mississippi's near last place ranking in almost any criteria other than perhaps poverty and obesity, one would think that the state would have more important issues to concentrate on.  But no, discrimination is always given top billing in a state that even Alabama looks down on as inferior.  The Washington Post looks at the situation.  Here are highlights:

The Texas National Guard refused to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits on Tuesday despite a Pentagon directive to do so, while Mississippi won’t issue applications from state-owned offices. Both states cited their respective bans on gay marriage.

Texas and Mississippi appeared to be the only two states limiting how and where same-sex spouses of National Guard members could register for identification cards and benefits, according to an Associated Press tally. Officials in 13 other states that also ban gay marriage — including Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Georgia — said Tuesday that they will follow federal law and process all couples applying for benefits the same.

Mississippi National Guard spokesman Tim Powell said the main factor in determining where same-sex spouses could apply for benefits came down to the property owner. Powell said only National Guard offices on federal property would accept the applications in Mississippi, which also constitutionally bans gay marriage.

“It is our intent to provide benefits and services to our men and women in uniform and at the same time abide by federal and state statutes,” Powell said.

Pentagon officials said Texas appeared to be the only state with a total ban on processing applications from gay and lesbian couples. Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said federal officials will process all applications from same-sex couples with a marriage certificate from a state where it is legal.

Alicia Butler said she was turned away from the Texas Military Forces headquarters in Austin early Tuesday and advised to get her ID card at Fort Hood, an Army post 90 miles away. She married her spouse — an Iraq war veteran — in California in 2009, and they have a 5-month-old child.

In Florida, where gay marriage is banned, state Department of Military Affairs spokesman Lt. Col. James Evans said he was unaware of any policy that would prohibit accepting a request for processing benefits.

Requests for benefits for same-sex couples in Oklahoma, where gay marriage also is illegal, will be handled like those from heterosexual couples, said Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Col. Max Moss. . . . “As long as the soldier presents that marriage certificate or license, then we would treat that claim just like we would any other soldier that brings in a marriage license or certificate,” Moss said.

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