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Texas National Guard Begins Offering Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

By Zack Ford  

"Texas National Guard Begins Offering Benefits To Same-Sex Couples"

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Camp Mabry

The Texas National Guard has begun processing benefits for same-sex couples at all facilities with the so-called RAPIDS machinery necessary to produce ID cards. The state originally had refused to comply with a Defense Department directive to offer the benefits, citing a constitutional amendment that limits the definition of marriage to different-sex couples. When this change was first announced on Tuesday, it seemed as though Texas may have followed Oklahoma’s example and moved the available RAPIDS machines only to federal facilities, forcing all couples to travel to those facilities. Staff Sergeant Jennifer Atkinson, a spokesperson for the Texas National Guard, clarified to ThinkProgress that couples can have their benefits processed at any facility currently equipped with RAPIDS, including some state facilities:

As a result of a dedicated effort to resolve this issue, customers seeking enrollment will experience seamless service at all Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification Systems (RAPIDS). Both same-sex and opposite-gender spouse benefits will be processed in the exact same way at the same locations. DoD will provide federal personnel, funding and the use of federal personnel systems to enroll all dependants, including those in same-sex marriages, in benefits programs. This solution ensures that no Texas National Guard Personnel in a state status will violate the Texas Constitution.

Rather than limit access to RAPIDS by geography and jurisdiction like Oklahoma did, Texas’ solution simply ensures that only federal employees process the benefits, wherever the RAPIDS machines are. Lambda Legal has confirmed that its client Alicia Butler, wife of 1st Lt. Judith Chedville, successfully registered for federal military benefits at Camp Mabry in Austin. Butler and Chedville had attempted to register for benefits at Camp Mabry back in September, but were turned away and told they would have to travel to a federal facility — the closest of which would have been a three-hour drive.

Georgia and Louisiana remain the only two states that are in violation of the Defense Department’s directive to ensure same-sex couples are afforded the same federal benefits through the National Guard as other married couples.

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