Shaky Ground For Same-Sex Benefits

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By: Matt Horn
September 17, 2013

Because Florida defines marriage as a one man, one woman union; same-sex National Guard couples may have to go to federal military bases if they want to take advantage of a court ruling allowing them to receive benefits like other married couples. Florida is continuing to stall when asked if the state would honor the courts ruling.

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.

“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,” said Ron Bunting.

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 office’s 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.

“There’s court battles popping up all over the country, obviously,” said Jim VanRiper. “Fortunately 47 stats have said you know they’ll honor DOD’s decision to respect those couples in the military.”

For the time being, the Florida National Guard is advising same-sex couples to submit their benefit applications at federal facility’s managed by federal employees.

Neither Pam Bondi’s office or the Florida National Guard made itself available for an interview.

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