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Sterling Employment Law

Same-sex couples now applying for military benefits

Military personnel in Michigan and across the nation are waiting to see the resolution of a conflict between state and federal legislation. In Texas, the National Guard refused to process any requests for benefits between same-sex couples on Sept. 3. The Pentagon ordered that the requests be processed after part of the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. The act included a section that says that states don't need to honor same-sex unions that are legal in other states. The Pentagon speculated that Texas seemed to be the only state that would deny same-sex couples employee rights.

The commanding general of Texas Military Forces wrote that the Texas Constitution restricts marriage to one man and one woman, which means their agency won't process any applications from same-sex couples. However, he also said that the military agencies would not turn down anyone who requested benefits. He provided service members with information on where the affected couples could sign up for benefits throughout the state. He further reported that the Texas Military Force will give military service employees all of the rights they deserve. He encouraged them to go to federal locations in order to request their benefits.

Governments in 19 states provide benefits to gay and lesbian couples even if same-sex marriage isn't legal there. Florida, Michigan and Oklahoma currently ban same-sex marriage but will still adhere to the federal regulations. The president of a military agency that advocates for LGBT people feels that Texas is complicating matters for military personnel who already have enough on their plates.

When employees feel that they are not receiving equal treatment, they might want to fight against the injustice. An employment attorney might be able to help clients obtain the rights that they have been denied.

Source: CBS News, "Texas Guard refuses to process same-sex benefits", September 03, 2013


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