Now this is a truly odd situation. The Pentagon, as any red-blooded American knows, is a part of the Federal government and the Texas National Guard, as a part of the U.S.’s reserve armed forces, is commanded by and subject to the Department of Defense’s directives. But, apparently Texas may have decided to sit this one out.
Pentagon officials said Texas appeared to be the only state that planned to turn gay and lesbian couples away on Tuesday, the first working day that gays in the military may apply for benefits. The Department of Defense had announced it would recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal following the U.S. Supreme Court decision throwing out the Defense of Marriage Act.
Legally, the Governor is the commander of Texas’s reserve forces unless and until the President of the United States calls them up for duty. However, it’s the Federal government that provides the lion’s share of funding for all National Guards in states across the country even when it’s a Governor that activates the Guard in reaction to a state level disaster.
Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that because the Texas Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, his state agency couldn’t process applications from gay and lesbian couples.
“However, the (Texas Military Forces) remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation,” he advised service members.
Considering so much of the state money being paid as benefits is actually federal money it’s interesting that this distinction is being drawn. Just as interesting is how much Texas state level employees seem conflicted about the issue.
State officials said they supported same-sex families but couldn’t process the paperwork.
“Despite the legal conflict, the (Texas Military Forces) remains committed to ensuring military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled,” said Laura Lopez, a spokeswoman for Texas Military Forces, which oversees the state’s National Guard units.
So they want to but they can’t. It will be interesting to see where this goes. The Pentagon isn’t particularly known for humoring those who decide to do their own thing and same sex benefits for service members, according to many, has been one of President Obama’s crowning achievements. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been known to challenge the President publicly before, most notably during his run for President in 2012. It’s unclear what will happen here but I can’t imagine that the Pentagon will sit idly by without taking a stand one way or the other.