MISSISSIPPI: Governor To Defy Hagel on Spousal Benefits For National Guard

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryan says that he will defy Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has ordered state National Guard units to grant benefits to the spouses of gay military members. 

Bryant’s stand sets up a showdown with the Pentagon at a time Mississippi is trying to hang on to its military installations and is seeking to show it is a strong partner of the military. The governor’s is refusing to lift the state’s Army National Guard ban on spouses in gay marriages being eligible for IDs necessary to obtain benefits — a circumstance Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says he will not abide. Bryant says he does not have the constitutional authority to lift the ban. “The Mississippi Constitution clearly defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and expressly prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions,” Bryant said through a spokesman. The state’s stand on same-sex marriage benefits could affect Mississippi’s chances for keeping military bases in a new round of base closings, though Mississippi won’t be alone. Eight other states have taken the same stand and could face the same consequences.

Eight states have not yet complied. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says she might sue to stop Hagel’s edict.