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Posted: Thursday, 05 September 2013 5:30PM

LA Guard won't process gay spouse benefits paperwork

Louisiana's National Guard has announced it won't process benefits for gay and lesbian married couples serving in the guard.  That appears to run counter to directives from the Pentagon, but it doesn't necessarily mean benefits will be denied.
Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment that not only recognizes marriage as only between one man and one woman, it expressly forbids state officials from doing anything that might recognize otherwise.  Guard spokesman Lt. Col Mike Kazmierzak says that's why they have to send service members looking for such benefits elsewhere.
"We refer any individuals that are interested in applying for those benefits to seek guidance at a federal military installation," Kazmierzak said, meaning gay soldiers and airmen in the Louisiana Guard who are legally wed in states that recognize same-gender marriage would have to go to a regular U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps base.

Jeremy Johnson with the group Service members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All (SPARTA), which advocates for gay service members, says he doesn't understand that logic.
"It's not a matter of asking states to provide benefits," Johnson told WWL First News.  "What we believe is that there is no reason why the state cannot enroll or process these applications, because they're going into a federal system."
Johnson says all the Pentagon has told state guards to do is perform an administrative task for a federal program.

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Topics : Social Issues
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Locations : LouisianaU.s.
People : Jeremy JohnsonMike Kazmierzak
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