Neo-Confederate ‘states’ rights’ opposition to Defense Dept. order re: benefits to same-sex partners

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. population serves in its armed forces. Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart – NYTimes.com (Karl Eikenberry, Army Lt. General, retired).

President Obama stated on the ending of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy:

Today, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is
finally and formally repealed.  As of today, patriotic Americans in
uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve
the country they love.  As of today, our armed forces will no longer
lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and
lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those
who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply
values your service.

It took the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married to end Defense Department regulations that discriminated against gay and
lesbian service members. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had the Armed Forces review their rules and regulations and bring them into compliance with the Supreme Court ruling by September of this year.

But several Southern states with anti-gay benefits state laws have chosen to defy the Department of Defense orders with respect to their National Guard units asserting the tired old Neo-Confederate "states' rights" defense. These states continue to discriminate against patriotic Americans — the few who volunteer to proudly serve in their country's Armed Forces to defend your feeedoms — simply because they are legally wed gay and lesbian service members. These states clearly do not respect nor value their proud military service.

The New York Times reports today Texas and 5 Other States Resist Processing Benefits for Gay Couples:

Texas is one of six states refusing to comply with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s
order that gay spouses of National Guard members be given the same
federal marriage benefits as heterosexual spouses. Mr. Hagel’s decree,
which applies to all branches of the military, followed the Supreme
Court’s ruling in June that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage
Act that had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

While a majority of states ban same-sex marriages, most are not fighting
the new policy. But Pentagon officials say that in addition to Texas,
Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia have balked.

Each has cited a conflict with state laws that do not recognize
same-sex marriages. (A West Virginia official said, however, that the
state intended to follow the directive.) While the president has the
power to call National Guard units into federal service — and nearly all
Guard funding comes from the federal government
— the states say the
units are state agencies that must abide by state laws.

Requiring same-sex Guard spouses to go to federally owned bases
“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,” Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma said last week.

But the six states are violating federal law, Mr. Hagel told an audience
recently. “It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers
prejudice,” he said. Mr. Hagel has demanded full compliance, but
Pentagon officials have not said what steps they would take with states
that do not fall in line.

Though the government does not keep official figures on same-sex marriages in the military, the American Military Partner Association,
which advocates for gay service members, estimates that the number
could be 1,000 or more of the nearly half-million National Guard members
nationwide, said Chris Rowzee, a spokeswoman for the group.

The military grants a range of significant benefits to the spouses of
active-duty guardsmen, including the right to enroll in the military’s
health insurance program and to obtain a higher monthly housing
allowance. Spouse IDs allow unescorted access to bases with their
lower-priced commissaries.

Officials in the six states say they are not preventing same-sex spouses
from getting benefits, because those couples can register and receive
IDs through federal bases. But those officials conceded that many
couples would have to travel hours round trip to the nearest federal
installation. Advocates for gay service members, though, fear that some
benefits offered on bases, like support services for relatives of
deployed service members, could still be blocked.

Moreover, gay spouses say that in an age that saw the scrapping of the
military’s ban on openly gay service members, it is discriminatory — and
humiliating — to have to jump through extra hoops to receive benefits.

These Southern states should end their discrimination against service members of the U.S. Armed Forces. If they do not, their state National Guard units can be federalized and made to comply with the laws of the United States. It's just that simple. This bogus "states' rights" argument cannot be allowed to stand.

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