Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oklahoma Drops National Guard Benefits For All Couples Rather Than Recognize Gay Couples

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R)
This blog has noted before the refusal of some states to provided benefits to all legally married couples - particularly gay couples - where a  spouse is a member of the National Guard.  Sadly, the Defense Department has failed to date to hit these renegades states where it hurts: stop all federal funding and take back federally provided equipment and aircraft.  The result is that now Oklahoma is going to deny benefits to all married guard members rather than provide benefits to gay couples legally married in other states and recognized as being married by the federal government.  It's the ultimate in batshitery, but such passes as principled stands in today's GOP and, of course in Christofascist circles.  Here are excerpts from a piece in Think Progress:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced earlier this month that state-owned National Guard facilities will no longer allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits, regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act means that servicemembers with same-sex spouses are now eligible for federal benefits. Fallin’s unusual tactic is designed to avoid having to recognize those couples, which she asserts would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman:
FALLIN: Oklahoma law is clear. 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.
This decision directly contradicts an order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordering states to provide same-sex couples with the federal benefits they deserve under the law. All married couples will now have to travel to one of the five federal facilities in Oklahoma to apply for benefits.

Incidentally, the state’s facilities were built almost entirely with federal funds and 90 percent of the Oklahoma Military Department — which includes the National Guard — is funded by the federal government.

Fallin’s tactic mirrors other attempts to punish an entire group to avoid serving the gay community. When marriage equality came to the District of Columbia, Catholic Charities decided to stop offering partner benefits to all employees to avoid having to provide them to any employee’s same-sex spouse. In various states, Catholic Charities has also abandoned all adoption services to avoid having to provide them to same-sex couples.

Oklahoma is not alone in defying Hagel’s orders. The Texas Military Force acknowledged this week that it will not allow same-sex couples to apply for a housing allowance at state-run National Guard facilities, having already turned away at least one couple. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia have also refused to comply, but some states that previously had balked have begun complying, like West Virginia. A total of 29 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, but most are complying with the federal recognition for purposes of the National Guard.

Meanwhile, Virginia is among the states that have ordered same-sex couples to file their taxes separately.
As stated above, Hagel needs to stop all federal monies going to Oklahoma's national guard.  Let Fallin go to the public in her state and explain why she needs to increase taxes to replace the lost funding.  The irony of it all, of course, is that the sole reason for Fallin's behavior is the Christofascists' desire to stigmatize gays and give them a basis to fell superior over others.  It's beyond sick.  The Christofascists and their political whores in the GOP are not nice and decent people and the rest of America needs to understand this and treat them like the pariahs they are to constitutional government.

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