The Texas National Guard has moved a step further in its defiance of a Pentagon policy toward gay service members by refusing to process military housing allowances for same-sex couples, according to a gay-rights group.
The Texas Military Force, which includes the state’s guard forces, acknowledged on Monday that it was requiring all same-sex couples wanting to apply for a housing allowance at a “with dependent” rate must do so at a federal installation.
The American Military Partner Association, which represents gay military spouses, said the Texas National Guard has already turned away at least one couple that applied for the benefit at a state facility.
The group said the affected service member had chosen to remain anonymous with the public due to concerns about retaliation affecting her career and because of a “clear absence of protection under the Department of Defense or Texas Military Forces non-discrimination policy.”
“By refusing to treat same-gender military couples equally, the Texas Military Forces, under the leadership of Gov. Rick Perry, is creating a hostile climate of discrimination and has sent a strong message that Department of Defense policies and direct orders by the secretary of defense will not be followed,” said AMPA president Stephen Peters.
In August, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military to treat all legally married couples equally. That directive complied with an earlier Supreme Court decision that required the federal government to recognize legally married same-sex spouses for the purpose of benefits.
The Texas National Guard on Monday insisted that it is not denying benefits to same-sex couples, despite its requirement that gays must apply for the housing rate at federal installations.
“We want every gay National Guard member entitled to benefits to obtain those benefits,” said Texas Military Forces spokeswoman Laura Lopez. “We are not denying any benefits for people who are entitled to them, to include housing.”
Lopez added that gay couples who have been approved for the “with dependent” housing allowance will “absolutely get that rate.”
Texas is one of six states that have refused to issue military IDs to gay spouses, telling same-sex couples they must apply for benefits at federal installations because their laws or constitutions prohibit the recognition of gay marriage. ‘The other states include Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
National Guard units fall under the jurisdiction of both the federal government and their respective states, giving them a unique status among military forces.
Earlier this month, Hagel directed the head of the National Guard Bureau, which acts as a liaison between the states and federal government, to meet with the adjutants general of the noncompliant states to resolve the issue. Indiana, which had delayed its decision on the matter, said soon thereafter that it would process benefits for same-sex couples at state facilities.
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