On the first day of registration of same-sex partners by National Guard units nationwide, Texas refused to register Butler. Her wife, Chedville, is a nurse in the Texas National Guard.
Texas’ refusal to register same-sex partners of military personnel ended last week when the state, under threat of a lawsuit by Butler and the possibility of losing federal funding and equipment based in Texas, relented. Under the new system, which is exactly the same as the old system, couples will be registered by federal employees using a federal computer system at federal bases or National Guard bases statewide.
Registering as a military partner allows the spouse access to the base where they are offered discounted shopping, medical services and other benefits. Butler’s 5-month-old daughter wasn’t able to access the medical care that is available to all National Guard personnel and their dependents.
Louisiana’s National Guard followed Texas and began registering same-sex partners of military personnel.
“Officials from the Louisiana National Guard have finally made the right decision, and we are satisfied with the outcome,” said
Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partner Association. “However, this situation only highlights the bigger issue that still needs to be addressed.
There are still major conflicts between state and federal laws where states have codified discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans into state laws and constitutions. This is yet another stark reminder of how far we have yet to go to achieve our nation’s promise of ‘liberty and justice for all.’”
After Texas first began refusing to register same-sex partners, Louisiana soon followed along with Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Florida.
Texas changed its policy on Nov. 27.
States that refused to follow Defense Department policy could have lost federal funding and equipment.
Registration of partners is completed on a federal computer system that is placed in National Guard facilities and is funded entirely by the federal government.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 6, 2013.