As several states with same-sex marriage bans currently fight the Department of Defense's new policy to include same-sex couples in its spousal benefits, one Midwestern state has decided to turn the tide.
Members of the Missouri National Guard who are currently in same-sex relationships can now receive equal military benefits, despite the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, the Riverfront Times reports.
"We're just following guidance from the Department of Defense," Missouri National Guard spokesman 1st Lt. John Quin told the news source, adding that the state's same-sex marriage ban was not taken into consideration by the guard because its benefits program falls under the federal system.
The DoD's spousal policy shift occurred in July, following the landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that blocked federal agencies from recognizing same-sex couples. Under the new rules, same-sex military and National Guard couples are eligible for various assistance programs such as military healthcare, Social Security and survivor benefits, as well as military identification cards allowing access to bases and their facilities.
While Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has yet to speak on this issue, the governors of nearby states Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi – all of which have a constitutional law banning gay marriage – have blocked their same-sex couple guards members from receiving these benefits. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was the latest state leader to cease the processing of same-sex couple benefits, according to The Associated Press.