Main | Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Meanwhile In Texas...

From the memo:
The DoD will begin extending spouse and family benefits, such as identification cards, to same-sex spouses. Enrollment into the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) will begin on 3 September 2013 The TXMF is a state agency under the authority and direction of the Texas state government. Therefore, the TXMF must consider that the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code 6.204 conflicts with the DoD policy extending benefits to same-sex spouses. Due to this potential conflict, we are unable to enroll same-sex families into DEERs at our state supported facilities until we receive legal clarification.
UPDATE: Over on Twitter, Josh Barro wonders if this is just a procedural issue and prods me to post more from the memo in which Nichols directs same-sex spouses to visit a nearby federal base to enroll. The below list is from an internal memo addressed to "All TXMF Members" and the bases are not cited at the above link.
However, the TXMF remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation, which include: NAS Corpus Christi PSD, Corpus Christi Army Deport (CCAD), Ft Hood Copeland Service Center, Ft Hood Military Personnel Center NAS JRB Visitor Control Center, Fort Bliss, US Army Corps of Engineers, ACOE Building ID Card Section, NAS Kingsville, Lackland AFB, Randolph AFB, USAF PKI SPO, Fort Sam Houston, Wilford Hall, HQ AF ISR Agency CSS, 340 FTG ID Card Section, Sheppard AFB Personnel Building, Dyess AFB, Goodfellow AFB, Laughlin AFB
 UPDATE II: The Washington Blade has more on the story.
Alicia Butler, an Austin, Texas, attorney, said she was rejected when she tried to register with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS, the military’s health benefits system, when she applied on Tuesday at Camp Mabry, where her spouse, Judith Chedville, a nurse and Iraq war veteran, is stationed as a member of the National Guard. “We were told that Texas would not register us into the system and would not issue an ID card for me,” Butler said. “We were told that if she was active duty they would do that for me, but not for a National Guard member because she’s part of the Texas National Guard.”

The explanation the couple was given, Butler said, was that they were denied because she and her spouse are the same gender. Butler said she and her spouse were legally married in California. Butler added she and her spouse were directed to another facility in Texas that is run by the federal government. “They told us to go to a different facility, such as Ft. Hood in San Antonio, where the federal government runs the facility, so that we could get the ID card,” Butler said. “That’s an hour-and-a-half drive for me, and we have a five-month-old, so that’s kind of hard.”

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