Like Mississippi, Florida has a ban on recognizing gay marriages. But unlike Mississippi, its National Guard has found a way out of the spousal benefits pickle the ban presents.
The rub, however, is that Florida’s solution may get the state off the hook with the Pentagon but is certain to stir anger throughout the ranks. It forces all married couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards to which they are entitled.
Mississippi has been steadfast in its refusal to adhere to Department of Defense policy on granting benefits to same-sex spouses of National Guard members and is advising the spouses to go to federal installations for the ID cards.
Florida’s solution: Have all Air and Army National Guard members obtain the IDs at federal military bases.
Beginning Tuesday, all married military couples — gay and straight — must apply for and receive health, death and other benefits at federal facilities located within the state, the Miami Herald’s Steve Rothaus reports.
“In order to meet the state constitution and meet federal intent, we moved the functions from state buildings to federal buildings and we’re in compliance all the way around,” said Lt. Col. James Evans, director of public affairs for Florida National Guard, in Rothaus’ article.
“We want to ensure that everyone is treated equally and all Florida National Guard members get their benefits in the same place.”
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government must recognize legally married same-sex couples, the Pentagon adopted a policy that same-sex spouses of military members are eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses.
Florida, Mississippi and six other states announced they would not implement the Pentagon’s policy, a move that angered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
“This is wrong,” Hagel said in a speech last week.