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North Carolina

N.C. National Guard to recognize same-sex marriages

Monday, September 9, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina National Guard announced Monday that it will begin recognizing same-sex marriages, a policy shift that could have substantial financial help for families not previously eligible for the same federal military benefits awarded to heterosexual couples.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Maury A. Williams said the Guard will abide by U.S. Department of Defense orders extending benefits to the same-sex spouses of uniformed service members. Williams said couples who wed in states where same-sex marriage is legal can begin applying for benefits immediately.

“In accordance with all applicable DOD directives, rules and regulations, we will do our best to facilitate effective and efficient assistance for these service members and their partners,” Williams said.

With the announcement, North Carolina sidesteps a potentially thorny legal issue.

The Pentagon changed its policy following a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade federal agencies from recognizing same-sex unions. However, National Guard units have dual status as both federal troops and members of state militias, putting them under the command of both the president and the governor of the state where they are located.

Thirty-three states have laws or constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, while 19 recognize same-sex spouses. North Carolina voters approved a Constitutional amendment in 2012 limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

After the U.S. Department of Defense began allowing same-sex couples to apply for identification cards and benefits last week, National Guard officials Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana said they would refuse to process the applications. All three states have gay-marriage bans and are led by socially conservative Republican governors.

Asked for Gov. Pat McCrory’s response, spokeswoman Kim Genardo replied Monday evening that the payment of federal military benefits doesn’t involve state funds. She did not comment on the potential conflict with North Carolina’s gay marriage ban or whether the governor’s staff was consulted prior to the Guard’s announcement.

The N.C. National Guard is comprised of about 12,000 soldiers and airmen, many of whom have been called to active duty in recent years for deployments to war zones in the Middle East.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. ???really ???

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:25am
  2. :D

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:36am
  3. Way to go NC National Guard.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:48am
  4. Wow. NC is doing something RIGHT?!?!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:49am
  5. Thanks Michael Behrns-Miller!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 4:21am
  6. if North Carolina is more accepting than another state then there is a problem with the other states and most of my family lives in NC so I speak from experience

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 5:08am
  7. Wow, one of the National Guard commanders in the south DOES know his ass from a hole in the ground!!! I’m shocked!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 9:45am
  8. Sounds good but what’s the catch?

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 9:57am
  9. North Carolina?!! Now THAT’S progress!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 10:52am
  10. Taylor Barbour

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 11:23am
  11. Way. To. Go.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 12:24pm
  12. Damn!!! Way to go NC, what about Virginia???

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 12:59pm
  13. Great job NC

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 2:19pm
  14. Well, they have to per the DOD and the Justice Department.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:36pm
  15. Hell has indeed frozen over, and I am thrilled!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:50pm
  16. YAYYYYYYY :)

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 4:02pm
  17. Does this mean gay can get married in nc?? Im hoping so bc I wasn’t to marry the love of my life!!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 4:34pm
  18. When in NJ?

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 6:59pm
  19. If they follow Federal standards in NC…why the hell does Texas think they can ignore it??

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 7:30pm
  20. This is a step in the right direction.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 7:44pm
  21. NOW do it for the citizens of the state

    Posted on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 1:34am