Same-Sex Couple Benefits in Limbo
Married same-sex couples may be denied benefits at Florida National Guard posts. That’s because the state is unsure on how to process benefit requests on state property after the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down earlier this year.
Ron Bunting, a LGBT advocate says, “It’s like anything else, if its civil rights the only way you get it is to keep banging on the wall and it eventually comes down.”
Earlier this month federal military bases were required to allow married same-sex couples to register for benefits.
At the beginning of September, the Florida National Guard sent a letter requesting the guidance of Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office on the subject.
Her response: a letter saying the state cannot provide a legal opinion because of insufficient information. The letter goes on to say the National Guard fails to indicate the course of action the department will take if a same-sex married couple applies for benefits.
Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi have similar same-sex marriage laws. Those three states have already refused to allow married same-sex couple to apply for benefits at National Guard posts.
LGBT advocates say they are hopeful the state will allow same-sex couple to get benefits at the National Guard posts.
Jim VanRiper with Equality Florida states, “There’s court battles popping up all over the country, obviously. Fortunately 47 stats have said you know they’ll honor DOD’s decision to respect those couples in the military.”
For time being the Florida National Guard is advising same-sex couples to submit their benefit applications at federal facility’s managed by federal employees.
Pam Bondi’s office or the Florida National Guard were not available for an interview.