AUSTIN – Today, sixteen members of the Texas House of Representatives issued a letter to Major General John F. Nichols, urging him to rescind his decision to not process military spousal benefit claims for same-gender spouses of Texas National Guard service men and women, in contravention of a Department of Defense policy. The representatives cited the fact that seventeen other states with similar statutory and/or constitutional bans on marriage equality have decided to process such applications. Mississippi is the only other state whose national guard shares Texas’ interpretation.
As the letter states:
“Clearly, this is a matter of legal interpretation, and the vast majority of your counterparts around the country operating under similar state laws have arrived at one that allows these spouses their federally guaranteed benefits. We call on you to respect Texas’ military families, to reconsider your position, and to follow the lead of virtually every other Adjutant General for the National Guard of the United States by, without further delay, enrolling all eligible spouses of National Guard service members at facilities operated by Texas Military Forces.”
The representatives noted that the General had asked the Attorney General for an opinion on the issue, but pointed out that this bureaucratic hurdle could take months, denying military personnel their legal benefits:
“It is our understanding that you have sought legal guidance on this matter from the Texas Attorney General. Since it could take several months to receive a response, we ask that you conduct enrollment of eligible spouses during this review process.”
The representatives also asked if the General had received any guidance from the Governor’s office on the matter.
Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth), who coordinated the release of the letter, said, “The General’s first duty here should be towards protecting the families of our service members, not protecting an archaic, anti-freedom state law. I think he needs to reexamine his priorities.”
Other members of the Texas House of Representatives signing onto the letter include: Rep. Garnet Coleman, Rep. Joe Farias, Rep. Jessica Farrar, Rep. Mary E. González, Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna, Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, Rep. Poncho Nevárez, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Rep. Chris Turner, Rep. Sylvester Turner, Rep. Mike Villarreal, Rep. Armando Walle, Rep. Gene Wu and Rep. Carol Alvarado.
Contact: Conor Kenny, 512-463-0740 / firstname.lastname@example.org