From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:The Georgia National Guard this afternoon indicated it intends to ignore a directive from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and will continue to send same-sex spouses of National Guard personnel elsewhere for benefits guaranteed by the Pentagon.
Here’s the statement received late Friday from Joseph Quimby, deputy director of public affairs for the state Department of Defense:
*“The State of Georgia does not recognize same sex marriages and is not authorizing the Georgia National Guard to process the applications for same-sex married benefits at state facilities. Any personnel seeking to apply for same-sex married benefits will be referred to federal facilities.”*
For those who aren’t familiar with how the National Guard works, a little explanation is in order. The National Guard is actually the state’s militia. They are uniformed troops that are accountable to the governor of the respective state.
National Guard units are also part of the US military for war planning purposes. They receive equipment and training from the US Department of Defense and, because of this, are expected to maintain the combat readiness of the equipment and have their personnel trained to support US wartime commitments. However, the salaries of the personnel are paid for by the state…therefore, the people are accountable to the governor of the state.
This status changes when they are mobilized and put on federal orders (such as if a national guard unit deploys to Afghanistan). When that happens, they become eligible for the same benefits as active duty troops.
(Note: there are a few notable exceptions, such as reserve technicians that are federal civil service employees during the week and guardsmen during the weekend…as well as guardsmen who are on federal orders for other than wartime purposes, such as those who work at the National Guard Bureau)*
The way I interpret the Georgia Guard’s statement is that the State of Georgia does not recognize so-called “same sex marriage” and will not have employees being paid by the State of Georgia or have computers and other resources owned by the State of Georgia used in any way to acknowledge an institution they do not recognize. However, they are not forbidding guardsmen from registering “same sex dependents;” they are telling Georgia Guardsmen that they must go to a federal facility (such as Ft Benning, Ft Stewart, Hunter AAF, or Robins AFB) if they wish to participate in a federal program that is not recognized by the state.
A VERY smart way to accomplish this task…my kudos to the State of Georgia for handling that very smoothly.