Did Rick Perry cave on gay National Guard benefits? No one seems to know for sure.

UPDATE: Well, this is getting interesting. Keep in mind that we’ve heard nothing from the Obama administration about the Texas National Guard press release published last night, so it’s anyone’s guess what it means. Usually if it’s good news, they’re happy to tell us about the good news.  At this point, the “good news” we’re now hearing on this appears to be mostly conjecture.

One of the lead groups working on this issue, the American Military Partner Association, now thinks that perhaps Rick Perry caved, and the Texas National Guard bases are in fact processing benefits for same-sex married couples.  Nonetheless, it appears that Perry had the Texas National Guard issue a press release seemingly claiming victory even though Perry appears to have caved.  The current theory is that Perry got feds to “agree” that only federal funds would be used to process the benefits, when in fact that was already likely the case – as most National Guard funding is federal anyway.  So this might have been a face-saving way for Perry to claim victory.  Though again, no one seems to know for sure as no one official seems terribly interested in telling us what’s going on. (This is the “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” problem I’ve written about often – when you handle the PR poorly, you tend not to get credit for the good things you’ve done.)

Hopefully at some point the Pentagon will weigh in, in addition the administration explaining, off the record, to advocates what’s actually going on here.


In a Thanksgiving yuck-fou to America’s National Guard members, Texas Governor Rick Perry has decided to no longer process benefits for heterosexual service members in the state, as a means of avoiding having to process such benefits for gay service members.

It’s a veritable rerun of the South’s strategy during the civil rights era to shut down city schools and swimming pools, rather than let African-Americans spoil the racist fun through integration.

The policy also had an added discriminatory benefit – by shutting down the pools, racist southern politicians hoped whites would blame blacks for the inconvenience.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a growing gay problem that goes far beyond his "Brokeback Mountain" jacket.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a growing gay problem that goes far beyond his “Brokeback Mountain” jacket.

The announcement of Texas’s decision came last night in a press release from the Texas National Guard, which Texas calls the “Texas Military Forces.”

It’s the latest move by southern Republican-controlled states to undermine the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which, along with the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down section 3 of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), made it possible, and necessary, for the federal government to treat gay and straight service members, and their spouses, equally.

The Texas National Guard press release suggests that the Pentagon signed off on this segregation-era non-solution.

It’s a solution that has military family advocates at the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) seeing red. From a statement they issued last night:

“The personnel, funding, and systems being used previously to process these enrollments were already federally funded,” said Stephen Peters, president of AMPA.

“Requiring everyone, both gay and straight couples, to travel potentially far distances away from their home units to enroll for benefits at a facility on federal property sounds more like they are making it worse for all, rather than simply complying with federal directives. This kind of an outcome is dangerous because it only only encourages animosity towards our families.”

AMPA is correct.  The overwhelming majority of the state National Guard budgets comes from the federal budget, paid for by US taxpayers nationwide.

In Mississippi, for example, the feds provide 99% of the state’s nearly $700 million National Guard budget.  So, the money Rick Perry is using to discriminate against gay troops, and encumber straight troops, is federal money.

All this “solution” guarantees is that federal tax money will be used to protect and promote homophobia.

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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67 Responses to “Did Rick Perry cave on gay National Guard benefits? No one seems to know for sure.”

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  2. Ninong says:

    He was only AWOL for a year and that was because he was working on that GOP fella’s losing senatorial campaign in Alabama. Besides, Poppy arranged for him to make up all of those missed drills by showing up at a single drill during which he spent the day reading magazines in the rec room, according to a later account by an eye witness.

    He just plumb forgot to report to his new commander when he switched states but he finally did report, even if he was more than 11 months late, and they let him make up all of those missed drills in one day of intensive training.

  3. Ninong says:

    George doesn’t talk about what he may or may not have done in his “youth,” meaning before he turned 40.

  4. Steven Fritchie says:

    Was that when he was snorting coke?

  5. Steven Fritchie says:

    I hope this changes in the next election because I’m sick of hearing “people” like Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert (these are the main 2 media hogs from Texas) spewing their apocalyptic ramblings.

  6. Steven Fritchie says:

    They’re too busy fighting the War on Christmas. Maybe Sarah Palin will send the Alaskan National Guard to the North Pole!

  7. Steven Fritchie says:

    Probably rehearsing for the Second Civil War! Perry is, after all, calling them the National MILITARY Reserves.

  8. Steven Fritchie says:

    You stole my line! At least #3. LOL. Yeah, Texas has overtaken California as the “Land of Fruits and Nuts”, especially the nuts!

  9. Ninong says:

    There are no extra costs. All pay and benefits for guardsmen are paid with federal funds, except when they are state activated for a specific state emergency. All of the payroll processing facilities are already in place. I don’t know how many same-sex married couples there are but I would be surprised if the number exceeds one hundred.

    I think this is the most telling statement yet by their media spokesperson: “We’re going to go back to business as usual. It will be full service,” Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a Texas Guard spokeswoman, told the San Antonio Express-News, referring to the decision that came late Tuesday.

  10. rmthunter says:

    When he wasn’t AWOL.

  11. rmthunter says:

    Based on the press release, I’m not at all convinced that DoD “negotiated” anything. It can just as easily be read to mean that DoD said “comply” and Texas scrambled around to find something that would comply while saving face for their idiot governor. Of course DoD approved the arrangement — they’re doing what DoD told them to do. This doesn’t really represent a compromise of any sort.

    And I’d suggest that, given the realities of funding for the National Guard, extra costs, if any, are going to be negligible.

    I think Ninong is correct — Perry caved.

  12. Anonymous says:


  13. karmanot says:

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  15. Timothy Wright Art says:

    My apologies. It was meant to be a little joke. I know there are wonderful people in the the South. Unfortunately those wonderful people don’t seem to get elected or not in large enough numbers to help erode the impression of the region’s entrenched homophobia, bigotry, and injustice.

  16. Ninong says:

    What? I’m not sure I understand your question. If you mean what do they do when they aren’t activated for a specific state emergency, the answer would be attend drills. Drills are usually one weekend a month but they used to be one evening per week from around 7 pm to 10 pm. They also have a 2-week summer camp (active duty for training) annually.

    Oh, and they have to be ready to be called to called to active duty by the president for deployment whenever and whereever needed. They were all called to duty for WWI and WWII and most of them were deployed in Korea. I don’t remember the actual numbers for Vietnam, but you could look it up. I’m sure you’re aware that many National Guard units have been deployed to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    National Guard units are activated as a unit, not as individuals. So usually it’s the entire division or at least an entire battalion that is activated. It’s not like reservists who can get called up individually. Sometimes they’re simply activated to replace regular army divisions that were deployed overseas. If you remember back when the Russians started putting up the Berlin Wall, President Kennedy ordered a couple (I think it was two, maybe more?) regular army armored divisions to deploy from the US to West Germany, so the Department of Defense activated a couple of National Guard Armored Divisions to take their place here. They simply federalized them for 364 days. They don’t like to go over a year because then they would all qualify for RA benefits, something DOD hates.

    I’m afraid I’m not up to date on the latest stuff because I completed my military duty before we got involved in Vietnam. Back when I was in all we had over there were “advisors,” and they were tasked with “counter-insurgency training” of the South Vietnamese army. Then President Johnson invented the Gulf of Tonkin incident so that he could bomb North Vietnam and that started the whole mess! But that was years after I was done.

  17. BillFromDover says:

    What are they doing in the meanwhile?

  18. BillFromDover says:

    There are 3 reasons he didn’t cave:

    1) Caving is not in the Texan Bush tradition.

    2) Exactly what is caving, anyways?

    3) And the third, ahhh… can somebody help me out here?

  19. jamesnimmo says:

    Perry’s little sister governor in Oklahoma, Mary “Mattress” Fallin, is pulling some hijinks as well with the National Guard seemingly unknowing that the Feds provide over 90% of the funding. She’s also running for re-election and needs to fan the flames of homo-hatred.


  20. pappyvet says:

    Rationalization allows behaviors or feelings to become justified .It is a weapon in the hands of people who refuse to accept the Humanity of others who do not fit in to an accepted stereotype of the way they believe ALL people should be. And should it snowball , the effects are brutal and devastating.
    It leads to situations where gays are forced to drink urine, where blacks are lynched, and when it has been allowed to grow large enough , it leads to Zyklon B.
    When unthinking , mindless hatred becomes rationalized as the norm , it does not matter the source.
    Phobic , monetary , or religious , the outcome will always be the same.

  21. Dakotahgeo says:

    I still say there’s something bad in the water down there, predating the oil spill!

  22. Jim Olson says:

    Yes, that’s it. Make a Federal employee touch the applications so us pure Texans don’t have to chance catching teh gay from one of them there icky homosexuals.

  23. bkmn says:

    Did Rick Perry cave? Don’t ask Rick Perry because he sure doesn’t know.

    Dumber than W, he is.

  24. Ninong says:

    The pay and benefits are 100% from federal funds. It’s only when guardsmen are activated by the state’s governor for a specific state emergency that they are paid with state funds.

  25. Ninong says:

    I think the reason you aren’t hearing anything from the administration on this is because that would blow Rick Perry’s face-saving way out. They’re allowing him to issue a press release saying the Department of Defense approved a compromise when in truth it looks like all of this is just a way to allow Perry to have an excuse to give his base.

    Check out how the Austin Statesman describes it: “The decision is a reversal for the Texas Guard.” http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local-military/texas-national-guard-reverses-course-will-allow-si/nb6Ly/

    “We’re going to go back to business as usual. It will be full service,” Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a Texas Guard spokeswoman, told the San Antonio Express-News, referring to the decision that came late Tuesday.

  26. FLL says:

    The administration would look like it’s more on top of things if they don’t wait until after the holiday weekend just because news of this came out the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve only been commenting since September 2011, but I was reading the posts during July 2011 when the DOJ filed a very effective brief against DOMA—except that they filed it just before the July 4th holiday weekend, lessening its impact in the press. I don’t think the administration needs to be nervous about Fox News at this late date.

  27. Hey, John, we’re off the subject, but Happy Birthday! Now you’re a quinquagenarian like me!

  28. karmanot says:

    Texas killed Kennedy.

  29. Indigo says:

    How’s that line go? . . . “It was all a misunderstanding.” Um . . . right . . .

  30. That tends to be my sense. And even if this were a case of Perry caving, and the administration trying to give him cover, then you tell advocates that privately. In this case, we’re hearing nothing.

  31. Naja pallida says:

    If they’re not reporting it, my guess is that it’s something they don’t want people to know. If they were taking the typical Republican stand against the people, they’d be blabbing all over Fox Noise about how much Obama is a communist by now.

  32. BeccaM says:

    What boggles me is how the anti-gay bigots are making like it’s a state constitutional crisis if someone has to process paperwork for Federal same-sex couple benefits — for a program and organization almost entirely paid for by Federal tax dollars.

  33. Ninong says:

    It’s probably “non-news.” It looks like Rick Perry caved.

  34. Sammy TSD says:

    I would say the confusion is intentional, just in the fact the Texas Guard dumped this story late yesterday, just before everyone fled for a long 4 day holiday weekend. .

  35. There is no update. That article is based on conjecture. All we have is Rick Perry’s National Guard’s press release, that on its face doesn’t sound terribly positive. We do know that a lesbian couple got benefits today at a Texas National Guard base, so it appears that maybe kinda sorta things might have been resolved, but as the administration is for some reason not saying what actually was decided, we now have no idea.

  36. No one has any idea what’s going on, since the admin is keeping mum. It’s all conjecture, the good and the bad. Silly way to run policy, but whatever.

  37. I’ve posted an update to the story. Since the administration for whatever reason hasn’t briefed anyone on what any of this means, it’s anyone’s guess. But you’d think that if it were good news, someone in the administration would have briefed someone working on the issue. Sigh.

  38. Ninong says:

    Good points, David, except that we don’t know if any employees had to be “relabeled.” All I did was copy and paste exactly what was written in last night’s press release from the Texas Military Forces. I provided the link above.

    I’m just pointing out that every state’s Adjutant General’s office has federally authorized positions and other employees that are considered “state status.” As usual, federally authorized jobs usually pay better. We have no way of knowing what the status was of those employees responsible for processing benefit applications. As I mentioned above, I assume that what they did was simply ensure that everyone processing benefit applications was “federal status.”

  39. Naja pallida says:

    Indeed. So many people get a skewed view of Texas because it’s politics have been heavily manipulated to only represent a minority of its population. People seem to forget that Texas was a moderate Democratic state up until the Tom DeLay/Karl Rove era of political distortion. All the major metropolitan areas tend to lean Democratic in federal elections, with the exception of, I think, Ft. Worth… but Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso all went Democratic in 2008. The state is about 40% Hispanic, which tend to vote Democratic. It’s just the loud mouth evangelicals that get all the attention, and covet all the power… coupled with the gobs of cash from special interests, that keep people believing Texas is firmly Republican.

  40. David says:

    Based on your description, this doesn’t sound like a good development at all. It sets a precedent that DoD should negotiate over compliance with its directives. And it will cost the taxpayers money, as they have to pay more for the same employee to perform the same task, only now under a “federal status” label. Why should these employees essentially benefit from Texas’ discrimination and its refusal to obey DoD directives? And why should taxpayers pay anything for a workaround? And why should the state of Texas benefit, even modestly, from the increased pay of its relabeled employees (who will pay state taxes on that increased pay).

    Even worse, if what you report is accurate, then every other red state will demand the same arrangement, so the added costs will be magnified and more taxpayer money will flow to red states for no other reason than to reward them for discriminating against married same-sex couples and defying the Department of Defense.

    And finally, even though the couples will get their benefits at the state facility, there is still inherent discrimination arising out of this farce of labeling and relabeling employees as state or federal for the sole purpose of preventing any state worker from having to process some paperwork for a gay soldier and spouse. Even if that soldier gets his paperwork and his benefits, there is still discriminatory stigma arising from the the process itself. By way of analogy, it would not be an acceptable for Alabama to say that Black people can only sit in the rear of the bus, and then following negotiations between Alabama and the DOJ, to solve the problem by simply designating any seat in which a Black person sits as “the rear” regardless of actual location. That would still be discriminatory and so is this compromise.

  41. nicho says:

    There are good people in Russia too. I’m still not going there.

  42. nicho says:

    I’m not sure a roll in the hay with Perry would be all that entertaining.

  43. Ninong says:

    According to a press release dated yesterday (Nov. 26, 2013), they resolved this issue with DoD: http://www.txmf.us/Press-Center.html

    Under the new procedure, DOD will provide federal personnel, funding, and the use of federal personnel systems to enroll all dependents, including those in same-sex marriages, in benefits programs. This solution ensures that no Texas National Guard personnel in a state status will violate the Texas Constitution.

    “We look forward to having the ability to process the benefits our service members and their families are entitled to,” said Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, the state public affairs officer.

    “We look forward to having the ability to process the benefits our service members and their families are entitled to,” said Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, the state public affairs officer.”

  44. Carlitos Atx says:

    Uh, no. Texas and Oklahoma–though similar in many respects–are not one and the same. OK has ceased processing of ALL benefits. Texas has just come in line with Federal Law and the NGB by agreeing to a shell game of orders (CH32 v. CH10) in order to work-around the same-sex issue. In short, same-sex couples are now processed for benfits in Texas at both NG and active duty ID/DEERs facilities.
    AND, I invite you to visit Texas and see that like the rest of the country, we are in fact very diverse. Don’t confuse Texas’ political vitriol with it’s people.

  45. Ninong says:

    They’re still upset that Texas is no longer the biggest state. In response, Alaska has threatened to divide in two and make Texas the third biggest state.

  46. SkippyFlipjack says:

    What a weird f*cking state. “We’ve reached a perfect solution where we don’t have to touch the applications of gay people, the feds will do that for us. PS: yay, guns.”

  47. chris10858 says:

    Sounds to me like a lot of Texans down there don’t seem to love America very much.

  48. Ninong says:

    Yeah, that’s right! It’s the “Texas Military Department” because everything’s bigger in Texas, ya know! And besides, they’re a republic and they can leave the union anytime they feel like it. So why don’t they?

  49. Ninong says:

    I don’t think the current governor has a problem sleeping at night. His problem is getting caught in bed with his Secretary of State, or, as Anita reportedly said, “entertaining another man.” LOL

  50. Chuck Smith says:

    The Texas National Guard will now process benefits for married couples at all its facilities, including the 5 state-run posts that were previously refusing to do so. “Federal” employees will process the benefits at the state-run posts so that the current governor can sleep at night.

  51. UncleBucky says:

    Sure. Go ahead and find the most backwater place in the “South”. Go there. Enjoy.

    Meanwhile, in the North, we have southernIST states like rural Illinois, rural Wisconsin and white suburban Michigan. I know. Act locally. Think globally. But then do what you can to un-vote Perry and all his ilk.

  52. UncleBucky says:

    OK, Progressives and Liberals in Red and Stupid States…

    I’m in Illinois. I feel bad for you. Really, I do. The best thing you can do is DAYLIGHT these suckers like Perry and others as well as start buying your stuff elsewhere any time you can. Sure that’s hard in the center of the state.

    So, move. leave Texas. OR OPEN YOUR MOUTHS, GET ACTIVE (if you are not already) and put these people where the sun don’t shine.

    And DON’T yell at me. Those of you who keep thinking that both parties are the same and either don’t vote or vote for a non-entity like the Green party as a protest vote are to blame.

  53. Ben says:

    It sounded more like they were going to have people acting on behalf of the DoD processing all of the applications, but they will be doing so at the national guard bases. Reading the stories I saw, all but two of the hold out states are going to start offering this solution at their bases.

  54. iamlegion says:

    The Texas National Guard press release suggests that the Pentagon signed off on this segregation-era non-solution.

    I don’t know that the Pentagon “signed off” as much as acknowledged that Texas has the authority to do this to themselves, despite the stupidity. This is truly cutting off their own nose to spite the gays.

  55. Bluefire says:

    I would like to believe that they would be turn their frustrations towards Perry. His reasons for doing this is nothing but petty. But then again nothing within the GOP surprises me much anymore.

  56. gratuitous says:

    Never forget how petty these people are. They don’t miss a trick when it comes to mean little things to do to their opponents. I wonder how the federal government will react to this – remember how swiftly school districts were punished when some of them declined to rat out their students to the military machine? Federal funds were cut off, and that right quickly when the next generation of cannon fodder wasn’t readily supplied by schools.

    For some reason, I suspect Texas and the other states dicking over their National Guard troops will be allowed to do so freely and with no consequences whatever. And the people of those states will continue to return these childish men to office again and again.

  57. S1AMER says:

    Yeah, you’re right that there are good people in the South and bad ones in the North.

    But where are the majorities of each, when it comes to LGBT equality (and a lot of other things)?

  58. Don Wallin says:

    Because “The NORTH” is always so good to gays? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/two-anti-gay-attacks-new-york-city_n_3314145.html
    That’s just an anecdotal example of the fact that bad things are perpetuated on gays by people all over the country. I’m from the south and I don’t appreciate your using Perry to blanket us as a whole. We have many great, intense supporters here. There are ignorant bigots everywhere. Perry just happens to have a camera in front of him.

  59. jsfox says:

    Something is not right here. San Antonio Express News is saying just the opposite – the Texas National Guard will be giving benefits to gay spouses.

    “A standoff between the Pentagon and Texas National Guard ended Tuesday when officials in Austin said same-sex couples could apply for benefits immediately.

    The decision means that five Texas Guard facilities once closed to gay couples will now enroll same-gender dependent spouses in benefits programs.”


  60. bobbybear.i.am says:

    One more reason to OUT this arsehole!!

  61. bkmn says:

    I would hope the DOD reconsiders their allocation of funds for the state National Guards, taking into account those states that willingly cut off services for married couples.

  62. S1AMER says:

    Dissing the gay and lesbian troops is actually the lesser intent in this. For Perry and other Texans, this has the greater impact of pissing off straight troops, leading them to hate on their gay “comrades.”

    See, just like they said, ending DADT harms unit cohesion!

  63. Timothy Wright Art says:

    One thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving season: The NORTH.

  64. Indigo says:

    That’s the kind of reaction from the social obstructionists that illustrates how completely their behavior is based on their determination to segregate the gay community from the mainstream. If ever there was a doubt that we were segregated, this is the kind of reaction that illustrates how deeply segregated we were.

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