Florida National Guard Grants Full Bennies to Same-Sex Married Couples
Even though the Sunshine State doesn't recognize gay marriage, Florida's National Guard has announced that they will give married partners of LGBTs full benefits. Per the US Supreme Court's June DOMA ruling, the Pentagon has updated its benefits policy for same-sex married couples.
According to the Huffington Post, the state -- along with eight others -- initially failed to comply with the new federal policy, with Lt. Col. James. K. Evans of the Florida National Guard saying the policy was in direct conflict with the state's constitution.
"Not only does this violate the states' obligation under federal law," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, "their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they're entitled to."
The benefits will now be processed at federal buildings rather than state facilities. Starting on Nov. 5, seven National Guard facilities in the state, plus all U.S. military bases in South Florida, will process same-sex benefits.
The American Military Partner Association, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian military members, praised Hagel's remarks, saying that he has made it clear that these states were failing to live up to their obligations to military families under federal law.
"We applaud him in showing strong leadership by ordering the National Guard in these states to comply and follow lawful direction and DoD policy," said Stephen Peters, the association's president.
"We are pleased that gay National Guard members won't have a separate, more difficult process for getting benefits for their spouses," echoed Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, the state's largest gay-rights group, in the Miami Herald . "This move ensures that the same procedure applies regardless of sexual orientation."