Initially, nine states resisted the Defense Department’s order to provide federal benefits to all service members’ spouses, including those in same-sex unions. Each unwilling state claimed that conforming would mean violating their state constitution.
While Texas and Louisiana finally gave in under pressure, Georgia and Mississippi were the last to hold out—until now. As of December 9, Georgia has moved on to stand with its reluctantly compliant friends.
Georgia will now process spousal benefit applications for National Guard members in same-sex marriages, but only federal members will process them—apparently in order to avoid forcing state employees to break state law.
“With Georgia, what it came down to was the authorization to put some state employees on temporarily federal status,” said National Guard Bureau spokesman Major Jon Craig.
While it’s certainly a positive step, American Military Partners Association spokesman Chris Rowzee wonders what changes we’ll actually see.
“Certainly, we are pleased that they have changed course and are now providing the federal benefits to which these military members are entitled,” said Rowzee. “We still have questions regarding what has actually changes since all of the personnel processing those benefits were federal employees to begin with.”
According to one defense official, General Grass and the National Guard Bureau are continuing the dialogue with Mississippi— the only remaining state refusing to observe federal policy.