National military gay rights group takes on Governor Fallin

A National group takes on Governor Mary Fallin. The Governor made a decision this week to limit access to benefits for same-sex couples in the National Guard, despite the Pentagon's ruling to treat them equally. Fox 25's Kisha Henry shows us what a national military gay rights group plans to do about it.

The decision now has same sex military couples asking questions like-- 'If my spouse is injured while on duty, will I be notified? Or, am I denied that benefit, too?' The exact amount of restrictions is unclear, but the American Military Partner Association says the decision is unfair.

I don't care if that soldier is gay or straight, they deserve those benefits," says State Representative Emily Virgin, (D)- Norman. Rep. Virgin is against Governor Fallin's decision. She says it goes against our values of protecting our men and women of service.

"If a guardsman is hurt or injured while on duty, will that spouse be treated with the same notification rights and types of things that heterosexual spouses are treated to? The folks that are out there defending this country and fighting for the freedoms and the rights that you have should not be denied those same rights," says Chris Rowzee, a spokesperson for the American Military Partner Association. The AMPA is now getting involved. "(We've) partnered with the ACLU and we're circulating a petition," says Rowzee. The petition calls for the Department of Defense to put pressure on the state to comply with its original directive.

"She's well within her rights because each National Guard is under the control of the Governor of that state," says State Representative Sally Kern, (R)- Oklahoma City. She agrees with the Governor, noting in 2004, Oklahomans voted to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The Governor's Office released this statement: "In 2004, Oklahomans voted to amend the state constitution to define marriage to be between a man and a woman. That measure, which passed with 75% support from Oklahoma voters, also specifically prohibited giving benefits of marriage to people who are not married. It is therefore prohibited by the Oklahoma Constitution for National Guardsmen, or other state employees or entities, to process benefits for gay couples. Because of that prohibition, Governor Fallin's general counsel has advised the National Guard not to process requests for benefits of same sex couples. Gay couples that have been legally married in other states will be advised they can apply for those benefits on federal facilities, such as Tinker Air Force Base, rather than state run facilities."

But, the AMPA says the Governor is using federal resources in a discriminatory manner. "The vast majority of those resources are federal resources, and that's everything from funding, their equipment, their tanks, their planes, their trucks, to the personnel that man those units on a day to day basis," says Rowzee.

Rep. Virgin says the decision could affect federal funding for our military, but more importantly, she says it sets a bad precedent. "In Oklahoma, we really value those who serve in the military and this just flies in the face of that," says Rep. Virgin.

You can sign the petition here, or contact your local representative or the Governor's office to voice your opinion.

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