Despite direct orders from the Pentagon, several states said yesterday that they will continue to deny ID cards to gay spouses at state militias.
The resistance put the Pentagon on a collision course with states that have rejected a Defense Department request, first issued in September, for identity cards to be issued to same-sex spouses so they can begin receiving benefits due to married couples.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the Republican head of the National Governors Association, called on President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to “stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda,” her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said in a statement on Friday.
“The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions,” Weintz said.
Josh Havens, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, said, “Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Those Republican-led states are Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Earlier this week The Indiana National Guard reversed it’s decision to not issue ID cards to same-sex spouses explaining that “the decision was never made to not process benefits, rather the decision was delayed in order to fully understand the impacts while service members serve in different pay categories.”
On Thursday night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a stern order to those states.
Like Perry, Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is one of those who has resisted. The Mississippi Business Journal reports:
Bryant says he does not have the constitutional authority to lift the ban. “The Mississippi Constitution clearly defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and expressly prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions,” Bryant said through a spokesman.
Georgia has issued a similar statement: “The State of Georgia does not recognize same sex marriages and is not authorizing the Georgia National Guard to process the applications for same-sex married benefits at state facilities. Any personnel seeking to apply for same-sex married benefits will be referred to federal facilities.”