Oklahoma Governor Blocks Same-Sex Benefits For National Guard

Oklahoma Governor Blocks Same-Sex Benefits For National Guard

FALLIN BLOCKS SAME-SEX BENEFITS FOR GUARD: Saying she was honoring the wishes of Sooner State voters, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has ordered her state's National Guard units to stop processing requests for military benefits for same-sex couples. The directive comes after the Guard had previously indicated it would process those requests. Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz cited a 2004 constitutional amendment endorsed by voters that bars the state from giving marriage benefits to same-sex couples. He noted that the order does not apply to federally-run facilities.

"Gay couples that have been legally married in other states will be advised they can apply for those benefits on federal facilities, such as Tinker Air Force Base, rather than state run facilities," he said.

Fallin's directive, which was revealed only last week after being officially issued on Sept. 5, was in response to a Pentagon announcement in August that same-sex spouses of military members would be eligible for health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses starting Sept. 3. That decision by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R) came after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Oklahoma is the fourth state to bar benefits for same-sex Guard couples, following Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. But those bans are now being challenged by a military gay rights group, the American Military Partner Association, which has joined with the American Civil Liberties Union in pressuring the U.S. Dept. of Defense to overturn them. A spokesperson for the group said Fallin's order — and by extension those in the other three states - does not meet legal muster.

"Her legal argument is full of holes," said Chris Rowzee, spokeswoman for National Guard affairs for AMPA. "National Guards are not solely state entities; they are a joint entity with the federal government."

At least one other LGBT rights group, Lambda Legal, has also threatened legal action if the four states do not reverse their prohibitions. (METRO WEEKLY [WASHINGTON DC], REUTERS, OKLAHOMAN [OKLAHOMA CITY], THE ATLANTIC)

POLITICS IN BRIEF: TEXAS Sen. Wendy Davis (D) is expected to announce plans next month to run for governor in 2014. Davis gained national attention earlier this year when she engaged in a nearly 11-hour Senate filibuster that temporarily blocked passage of a measure to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, impose strict health and safety standards on clinics and limit the use of RU-486, often referred to as the abortion pill (REUTERS). • U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen upholds the constitutionality of a MONTANA requirement that political committees disclose their campaign spending. Christensen said the public's right to know who is financing political campaigns outweighs the burden imposed on committees required to report the information (MISSOULIAN).

— Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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