Texas lawmakers are calling on the Texas guard to halt discrimination against married gay and lesbian service members, who under a Pentagon order are guaranteed equal treatment.
The 16 lawmakers signed a letter to Major Gen. John F. Nichols of the National Guard in Texas. Earlier this month, Nichols said that the Texas Guard would not be recognizing the marriages of gays and lesbians in the service even though the U.S. Defense Department has new rules in place requiring such recognition. The DOD implemented new policies after the U.S. Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to deny federal recognition to gays and lesbians who legally married in a U.S. state.
Nichols said recognizing same-sex marriage was in conflict with Texas’ constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Wisconsin has a similar amendment, but its guard is processing benefits applications by married gay members. So are other states with anti-gay marriage laws or amendments in place, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.
The Texas lawmakers wrote, “We call on you to respect Texas’ military families, to reconsider your position, and to follow the lead of virtually every other adjutant general for the National Guard of the United States by, without further delay, enrolling all eligible spouses of National Guard service members at facilities operated by Texas Military Forces. It is our understanding that you have sought legal guidance on this matter from the Texas Attorney General. Since it could take several months to receive a response, we ask that you conduct enrollment of eligible spouses during this review process.”
They also asked Nichols to provide any communication he might have had with Gov. Rick Perry on the matter.