OK Drops All National Guard Benefits to Block Coverage for Same-Sex Couples

Gov. Mary Fallin says Oklahoma National Guard facilities and employees who are paid with state tax dollars won't process benefits for married, same-sex couples.

Fallin said last week that all marriage benefits — including same-sex benefits — will be processed by federal employees at four federally owned National Guard facilities and at the state's five military bases.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the National Guard to comply with federal rules recognizing same sex benefits. But Fallin says the Oklahoma Constitution explicitly defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits marriage benefits for same sex couples.

"Oklahoma law is clear," Fallin said in a statement.

"The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people."

Oklahoma is not alone in defying Hagel’s orders. According to Think Progress, the Texas Military Force acknowledged this week that it will not allow same-sex couples to apply for a housing allowance at state-run National Guard facilities, having already turned away at least one couple. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia have also refused to comply, but some states that previously had balked have begun complying, like West Virginia.

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