News (USA)

Okla. governor evaluates options over Guard benefits for same-sex couples

Okla. governor evaluates options over Guard benefits for same-sex couples

OKLAHOMA CITY — A spokesman for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says Fallin and Attorney General Scott Pruitt are evaluating legal options regarding benefits for same-sex couples in the National Guard after U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a warning to states that have denied those benefits.

Mary Fallin
Gov. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.)

Hagel has said nine states are violating federal law and creating an unequal “hardship” for same sex couples.

In September, Fallin ordered the Oklahoma National Guard not to process requests for military benefits for same-sex couples.

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said in a statement Friday that Fallin said President Barack Obama and Hagel should stop using the Guard “as a pawn in a larger social agenda.”

The Defense Department began issuing identity cards to the spouses in same-sex couples following a Supreme Court ruling this year that cleared the way for them to receive the same work-related benefits given to heterosexual couples.

The American Military Partner Association, a group representing gay and lesbian members of the military, has spent the past few months documenting states that have been denying federal benefits to same sex couples.

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Several conservative-leaning states had declared they would not issue benefits cards for same-sex couples at National Guard facilities because of conflicts with state laws that prohibit same-sex marriage.

Weintz said Oklahoma voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibiting benefits to people who are not married.

He says Fallin is sworn to uphold the state Constitution.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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