The National Guard faces a conundrum following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (legislation that barred federal institutions from recognizing same-sex unions): the Guard answers to both federal and state authorities, given its dual status of federal troops and
Nonetheless, the North Carolina National Guard announced yesterday that that it will heed the Department of Defense's recent order to grant same-sex spouses of uniformed service members certain benefits previously reserved for heterosexual couples only. Specifically, National Guard Spokesman Lt. Col. Maury A. Williams explained that the Guard would begin recognizing same-sex marriages provided that the couples wed in states where same-sex marriage has been legalized. Williams further stated,
"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."
North Carolina is one of 37 states with laws or constitutional amendments defining marriage as that which is 'between a man and a woman'. North Carolina Governor, Republican Pat McCrory, has yet to comment on the issue.
Alabama, another of the 37 "red' states, shocked many when it, too, vowed compliance with the DOD's new policies. Guard spokesperson Lt. Col. Shannon Hancock declared that, "While this is new ground and territory for everyone", the Alabama National Guard plans to adhere to the Department of Defense's orders.
Similarly situated Republican states such as Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, however, have already announced that they will refuse to process same-sex couples' applications for benefits. Mississippi Guard officials warned that only offices located on federal property would accept applications from same-sex partners. Louisiana Guard officials also cited the conflict between state and federal law by referring same-sex couples to apply for benefits at a federal military installation rather than a state one. Texas Military Forces even sought from Attorney General Greg Abbott a legal opinion by asking what action should be taken in order to honor the Department of Defense's request "without violating the Texas Constitution or Texas state law." Abbott is not likely to deliver an opinion for several months.
Advocates and opponents alike will anxiously wait for other states weigh in on the debate, taking stances of either acquiescence or defiance. To learn more on military news, read through our blog or speak with a military criminal defense attorney today.