I guess you can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper (or on obscure local social blogs.)
Last week, we told you about the New York Times report claiming that Mary Fallin had flip-flopped and is now allowing state facilities to process spousal benefits for same-sex couples in the Oklahoma National Guard. In case you forgot about it, or were waiting in line at Wal-Mart to buy groceries for the winter weather Armageddon, here it is:
3 States End Resistance to Spousal Benefits Order
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
November 27, 2013
Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia are now complying with an order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requiring state National Guard units to process federal marriage benefits for same-sex spouses of guardsmen, according to the Department of Defense. Mr. Hagel issued the order — which also extended benefits to same-sex spouses of military service members — after the Supreme Court struck down a law this summer that had prevented federal recognition of same-sex marriages. At one point, nine states had objected to Mr. Hagel’s order, citing conflicts with state laws that do not recognize gay marriages. As a result, same-sex National Guard spouses in those states could sign up for benefits only by traveling to a federal military installation. As of Wednesday, only Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana were still defying Mr. Hagel’s order, said a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau in Washington.
Well, it looks like The New York Times blurb was wrong or “misleading.” We know this thanks to a very direct email from Fallin’s Communications Director Alex Wentz:
Wanted to set you guys straight on this post, which I just saw: http://www.thelostogle.com/2013/12/05/mary-fallin-changed-her-mind-oklahoma-will-process-federal-marriage-benefits-for-same-sex-spouses/
The governor has not changed her position on this issue. She has had one position: that the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits the state from recognizing gay marriage or from conferring the benefits of gay marriage on same sex couples (as you know, the people of Oklahoma voted to add that provision to our Constitution in 2004). Because of that Constitutional definition of marriage, it is not legal for state employees or state facilities to process same sex marriage benefits.
Secretary Hagel’s order to the OK National Guard to process same sex benefits thus ran contrary to Oklahoma law. To ensure the Guard was complying with Oklahoma law as well as the Pentagon directive, Gov. Fallin and leaders in the OK Guard made the decision to process all National Guard marriage benefits on federally owned facilities rather than state owned facilities.
That decision was made on November 6 and announced in this press release: http://www.ok.gov/triton/modules/newsroom/newsroom_article.php?id=223&article_id=13011
There has been no change in policy since that date.
The Pentagon considers Oklahoma’s current policy in compliance, which is what the New York Times article you cited said.
So, in summary, all marriage benefits for gay and straight couples are being processed in Oklahoma on federal facilities. No state-owned facilities are processing marriage benefits of any kind. As this article points out, there were only two state-owned National Guard facilities ever processing marriage benefits, and they are near federal facilities. Therefore the practical effect on Guardsmen is very limited. But the symbolic effect isn’t. Let it be known: Gay people are not welcomed in this state.
Yeah, I may have added those last two sentences to Alex’s email. They just kind of naturally fit in with everything else, and since Alex was trying to “set us straight.” I thought I’d help him out a little bit. No harm in that, right? We do want to be 100% clear.
This was my reply:
Did you email the New York Times? That’s where we picked up the story.
He then promptly responded:
We are going to request a clarification.
They are right that Oklahoma is no longer considered out of compliance. Their phrasing is misleading.
That’s great. I can’t wait for the world’s largest and most influential newspaper to clarify that our Governor is in “compliance” with federal law, and by the way, still thinks homosexuals are second-class citizens who don’t deserve the same rights, treatment and benefits of their heterosexuals peers. That’s the type of publicity our state needs. It will get lots of new businesses to move here.
While we’re at it, let’s take a closer look at that “misleading” Times article. Here’s the first paragraph:
Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia are now complying with an order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requiring state National Guard units to process federal marriage benefits for same-sex spouses of guardsmen, according to the Department of Defense.
Uhm, what’s misleading about that? It may be wrong, but it’s about as clear as a cheap bottle of vodka floating in Mary Fallin’s hot tub.
Anyway, I guess it’s kind of a relief that the New York Times article was wrong. I was starting to think that Mary Fallin had grown a soul and decided to do the right thing. That’s bad news for our material. We need the Governor to be the Queen of Derplahoma, and not a sane, logical moderate.
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