Politics

Oklahoma Governor Ignores Pentagon Criticism, Still Won't Offer Benefits For Married Gay Couples

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 17, 2013 file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin talks with reporters in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, July 17, 2013, following a speech to the National Lieutenant Governors Association annual meeting. The latest campaign filing reports show Fallin has nearly $1 million in her campaign war chest as she eyes a re-election bid in 2014, even though no formal challengers have emerged. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, July 17, 2013 file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin talks with reporters in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, July 17, 2013, following a speech to the National Lieutenant Governors Association annual meeting. The latest campaign filing reports show Fallin has nearly $1 million in her campaign war chest as she eyes a re-election bid in 2014, even though no formal challengers have emerged. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said her state's taxpayer-funded National Guard facilities and employees will not process benefits for married, same-sex couples, despite Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel criticizing the move days ago.

On Nov. 1, Hagel said it's "wrong" for states to defy the Pentagon by refusing benefits for same-sex spouses of military members.

"Not only does this violate the states' obligation under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they're entitled to," Hagel said during a speech.

According to the AP, Fallin said Wednesday that all marriage benefits will be processed by federal employees at four federally owned National Guard facilities and at the state's five military bases. Her refusal to allow federal employees to process benefits for same-sex couples is not new -- in September, Fallin ordered the National Guard to stop processing gay couples' requests.

Tulsa World reports Fallin reached her most recent decision with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. She said in a statement that her decision wouldn't put Oklahoma in conflict with federal law despite the apparent conflict with Hagel's orders:

Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state Constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.

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