“The discriminatory treatment of lesbian and gay spouses of service members, including the Army National Guard in Texas, is illegal,” wrote Lambda Legal staff attorney, Paul Costillo, in a letter dated September 13. Costillo added that Texas Military Forces—which are comprised of the state national guard—should change its current policies because it “fails its troops and their families.”
With the help of Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest organization, committed to achieving the full recognition of the civil rights of the LGBT community, the Texas National Guard is being pressured to revisit its policy blocking gay troops from enrolling at state-run facilities to receive spousal benefits, as Lambda Legal expects a response to Costillo’s letter within ten days. The letter is addressed to Texas Adjutant General Major General John Nichols.
Texas Military Forces has said that it can’t enroll the spouses of gay troops into the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), because state law prohibits same-sex marriage. Texas is one of three states that reportedly isn’t enrolling same-sex spouses into DEERS, the other two being Mississippi and Louisiana.
The national guards elsewhere—even in states that haven’t legalized same-sex marriage yet—have been enrolling same-sex couples in the system and according to Lambda Legal’s Costillo, Texas’ current policy “fails to accord all soldiers dignity and respect—[the]guiding principles of the military.” Lambda Legal doesn’t appear to be standing alone against the Texas Military Forces, either. The LGBT group known as the American Military Partner Association also released a letter last week, voicing their support for change.