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Federal workers to process same-sex benefit forms at La. National Guard sites

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana National Guard personnel seeking benefits for same-sex spouses will have an easier time filing the requests, despite a state refusal to let its workers process the paperwork because of Louisiana’s ban on gay marriage.

Louisiana-National-GuardNational Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Kazmierzak said Thursday that federal employees will handle benefit enrollment requests for same-sex couples at Guard sites around Louisiana, so service members don’t have to travel to federal military installations for processing.

The change hinges on the status of employees handling the benefit paperwork.

Kazmierzak said the U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer in Louisiana, who handles federal property and federal financing for the state National Guard, will move some Guard employees to federal personnel status to deal with the benefit enrollments.

It’s an employment classification tweak that allows state officials to say their employees aren’t violat ing a state prohibition of gay marriage, but that also puts Louisiana in line with a Pentagon directive issued in September permitting same-sex benefits for service members.

“State officials will still follow the state constitution as we always have. We have worked with the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau to help them come up with a federal solution to their federal program,” Kazmierzak said.

Approved by lawmakers and voters in 2004, the Louisiana Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman and declares a legal status of marriage for any other couples “shall not be valid or recognized.”

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“No Louisiana National Guard personnel will be asked to violate the Louisiana Constitution,” Kazmierzak said.

Because of that constitutional provision, the Louisiana National Guard previously had been requiring people seeking same-sex benefits to file the paperwork with eight federal military installations around the state for process ing.

The requirement could force long trips to the closest site for some service members to get the same services granted to heterosexual married couples, like access to base commissaries, medical care and housing allowances.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had chastised states that were not allowing registration at National Guard sites, saying he would not tolerate state-employed officials refusing to treat all members of the military equally.

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8 more reader comments:

  1. Amazing what happens when the secretary if defense jerks a knot in their asses! Lol

    Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 7:58pm
  2. √ Check!! Come on Oklahomophobia & ur so called “Christian” gov.!!! More like hate-filled crack-bitch!

    Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 8:02pm
  3. oh booby j trying to get ready for president? good luck dumb ass..America hates you

    Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 10:29pm
  4. Yeah ok, Now how about GAY MARRIAGE IN LOUISIANA!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 1:32am
  5. I’m a Louisiana native and active duty military, and I can’t wait to see those assholes Jindal and Vitter no longer in office! It sickens me to see my fellow service members sacrifice so much and even put their own lives on the line just to be treated like shit by the same ones who hand down their orders. How the hell can you ask a man to die for his country and then not even treat him with respect and dignity?

    Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 1:34am
  6. BOO-YOW!!!! Secretary Hagel is not someone with whom the right wishes to trifle lol

    Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 2:03am
  7. equal rights!

    Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 3:47am
  8. This is how we do it!

    Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 6:15am