After the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, the Pentagon issued an order for the all branches of the military to extend benefits to same-sex married couples, in the same manner they do for heterosexual married couples. Claiming their state constitutions did not allow them to recognize same-sex marriages, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Oklahoma all refused to comply. Military personnel serving on a National Guard bases in those states were forced to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, in order to submit an application for the benefits they were due.
Secretary of Defense Hagel put pressure on the six states, publicly ordering the holdouts to comply with the new policy or else. Though the “or else” was never publicly spelled out, National Guard bases get most of their funding from the federal government, if the Defense Department were to withhold that money, states would either have to close their bases, or blow a huge hole in their state budgets trying to cover the shortfall.
One by one, all six states gave in. West Virginia complied immediately. Oklahoma threw a tantrum, deciding their bases would not process claims for anyone, straight or gay. All married military members now have to make their applications on a Federal base. Texas cut a deal with the Pentagon for the feds to supply the personnel and pay for processing the claims. After Texas caved, Louisiana gave up the fight.
At the start of the week, only Mississippi and Georgia were out of compliance. An interesting coincidence, after The Daily Show’s recent comedy piece asked which of those two states will be last to legalize same-sex marriage. I shall post it below in case you haven’t seen it. But for the record, Mississippi was the last holdout in the military same-sex benefit tantrum of 2013.
I believe that makes the final score, Secretary Hagel-6. Homophobic States-0.
Mississippi flag image is from Wikipedia
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