One of the obvious results of the US Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling this summer is confusion. Confusion with the tax code, confusion with how states, who have the sovereign right to define marriage for themselves, balance their positions on marriage with the new federal definition of marriage. Texas, as well as Mississippi, is at the forefront of these questions.
"As a state agency, Texas Military Forces must adhere with Texas law, and the Texas Constitution, which clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman," said Josh Havens, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry's office.
Texas, like some other states, expressly prohibits same-sex marriage under its law. That state law trumps federal law, argues Perry and others.
"(Texas Military Forces) is a state agency under the authority and direction of the Texas state government," wrote the forces' adjutant general, Maj. Gen. John Nichols, in a memo dated August 30. "... Due to the potential conflict (between state and federal law), we are unable to enroll same-sex families ... at our state-supported facilities until we receive legal clarification."
In a statement Tuesday, the Texas Military Forces insisted that while Nichols is asking the state's attorney general for an advisory opinion, "the state is not denying any federal benefits to military personnel or same-sex spouses of military personnel."
"This is a processing issue, not a denial of benefits issue," the agency says. "As such, we fully encourage eligible members to enroll for their federal benefits at one of the 20 nearest federal installations, which are dispersed throughout the state of Texas."