TULSA - Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has announced the state will no longer allow married couples to apply for spousal benefits at any state-owned National Guard facility, regardless of whether they're same-sex or opposite-sex.
The decision defies an order issued by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, issued after the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) earlier this year.
In announcing the decision, Fallin said "Oklahoma law is clear. 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.
But Hagel has said he will fight the battle to provide equal access to all National Guard families, regardless of sexual orientation.
"All spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them," Hagel said last month. "But several states today are refusing to issue these IDs to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities. Not only does this violate the states’ obligations under federal law, but 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 state's decision means National Guard couples have only nine locations where they can apply for spousal benefits, all federally run.
They are: The Regional Training Institute in Oklahoma City, Camp Gruber Training Site in Braggs, Will Rogers Air Guard in Oklahoma City, The Tulsa Air Guard Base, Tinker Air Force Base, Altus Air Force Base, Vance Air Force Base, Fort Sill and the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.
29 states have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, but nearly all of them have decided to comply with the federal rules on recognizing couples in the National Guard in terms of benefits.