UPDATE: Well, this is getting interesting. Keep in mind that we’ve heard nothing from the Obama administration about the Texas National Guard press release published last night, so it’s anyone’s guess what it means. Usually if it’s good news, they’re happy to tell us about the good news. At this point, the “good news” we’re now hearing on this appears to be mostly conjecture.
One of the lead groups working on this issue, the American Military Partner Association, now thinks that perhaps Rick Perry caved, and the Texas National Guard bases are in fact processing benefits for same-sex married couples. Nonetheless, it appears that Perry had the Texas National Guard issue a press release seemingly claiming victory even though Perry appears to have caved. The current theory is that Perry got feds to “agree” that only federal funds would be used to process the benefits, when in fact that was already likely the case – as most National Guard funding is federal anyway. So this might have been a face-saving way for Perry to claim victory. Though again, no one seems to know for sure as no one official seems terribly interested in telling us what’s going on. (This is the “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” problem I’ve written about often – when you handle the PR poorly, you tend not to get credit for the good things you’ve done.)
Hopefully at some point the Pentagon will weigh in, in addition the administration explaining, off the record, to advocates what’s actually going on here.
In a Thanksgiving yuck-fou to America’s National Guard members, Texas Governor Rick Perry has decided to no longer process benefits for heterosexual service members in the state, as a means of avoiding having to process such benefits for gay service members.
The policy also had an added discriminatory benefit – by shutting down the pools, racist southern politicians hoped whites would blame blacks for the inconvenience.
The announcement of Texas’s decision came last night in a press release from the Texas National Guard, which Texas calls the “Texas Military Forces.”
It’s the latest move by southern Republican-controlled states to undermine the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which, along with the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down section 3 of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), made it possible, and necessary, for the federal government to treat gay and straight service members, and their spouses, equally.
The Texas National Guard press release suggests that the Pentagon signed off on this segregation-era non-solution.
It’s a solution that has military family advocates at the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) seeing red. From a statement they issued last night:
“The personnel, funding, and systems being used previously to process these enrollments were already federally funded,” said Stephen Peters, president of AMPA.
“Requiring everyone, both gay and straight couples, to travel potentially far distances away from their home units to enroll for benefits at a facility on federal property sounds more like they are making it worse for all, rather than simply complying with federal directives. This kind of an outcome is dangerous because it only only encourages animosity towards our families.”
AMPA is correct. The overwhelming majority of the state National Guard budgets comes from the federal budget, paid for by US taxpayers nationwide.
In Mississippi, for example, the feds provide 99% of the state’s nearly $700 million National Guard budget. So, the money Rick Perry is using to discriminate against gay troops, and encumber straight troops, is federal money.
All this “solution” guarantees is that federal tax money will be used to protect and promote homophobia.