The Louisiana National Guard won't process benefits for same-sex couples because the state Constitution does not recognize gay marriage, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday. The directive directly contradicts a Pentagon policy issued Tuesday requiring the military to honor such benefits requests.
"The state of Louisiana does not recognize same-sex marriage, nor does it allow a state officials to take part in an act that recognizes same-sex marriage. We would refer those individuals interested in applying for such benefits to seek guidance at a federal military installation," said Lt. Col. Michael Kazmierzak.
An amendment to the Louisiana Constitution, passed in 2004, states marriage "shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." Any status "identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized."
However, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, unconstitutionally denied equal access to benefits for same-sex couples, the Department of Defense took another look at its own policies.
On Tuesday, it issued a statement announcing the Pentagon would make spousal benefits available to all service members who had a valid marriage license. Most entitlements, such as family separation allowance and housing, are retroactive.
Litigation on this issue should be very interesting. My knowledge of conflicts of law has a heavy coat of rust, but I think that on military and federal benefits matters, federal law trumps state law, especially discriminatory and religiously based ones.
The scariest part of this dispute is that Alabama has decided to comply with federal policy. That's right, Ala-fucking-bama. At least Texas is running true to form and opposing the Pentagon.Even more startling is the fact that Mississippi is taking a more moderate position than Louisiana:
Mississippi's National Guard has since announced it will recognize the Pentagon policy, but will not issue benefit applications from state-owned offices.
Mississippi? Really? We're more benighted than both Jeff Davisland *and* Ala-fucking-bama? Of course, we do have the double whammy of bible belters in North Louisiana and John Paul/Benedict style Catholics in South Louisiana but when our neighbors to the east are less malakatudinous than Louisiana, I'm seriously bummed out. I count on Mississippi to be stupider than the Gret Stet and they let me down.
Oh well, at least we have Southern Decadence...