Ga. National Guard finally notices gay spouses

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The Georgia National Guard on Monday backed away from its refusal to process benefit applications for the spouses of gay-married troops, leaving just Mississippi as the lone hold out.

The announcement comes less than a week after Louisiana followed the lead of Texas and changed its ban on processing the applications. Georgia officials didn't respond to our questions about the policy on Wednesday; by Monday, they were confirming to media outlets that the ban was lifted.

Major Jon Craig, a National Guard Bureau spokesperson, said Georgia had agreed to process applications to grant same-sex spouses military IDs last week in a decision along the lines of Texas and Louisiana.

“With Georgia, what it came down to was the authorization to put some state employees on temporary federal status,” Craig said.

The change moves away from the Guard's refusal that was based on the Georgia's constitutional ban prohibiting same-sex marriages.

Georgia National Guard commanders had initially cited a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as a reason why it couldn't comply. But Craig said a compromise was struck that "allows Georgia not to violate state law while also treating all members of their National Guard and their same-sex spouses equally."

Those details are not immediately clear, but we're told the federal government will likely process the benefits for the Georgia National Guard.

In October, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel blasted nine states, including Georgia, refusing to follow a Defense Department edict to allow state National Guard facilities to issue ID cards to the spouses of troops in same-sex marriages. Those cards, in turn, allow the spouses to claim health, pension and housing benefits.

[Washington Blade | AJC]


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