Governor Bryant Shirks Federal Law and Insults US Service Members by Denying Access to Benefit Applications for Lesbian and Gay Family Members on State Property

September 4, 2013 12:00 am

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Jackson, Miss.– Tuesday, September 3, 2013 was the first day that legally married lesbian and gay service members could apply for federal benefits for their families. Like all married members of our Armed Forces, lesbian and gay U.S. citizens serving their country want to make sure their families are provided for. After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring the federal government to recognize legal marriages between same-sex couples, the Department of Defense announced that it would recognize all marriages that are legal in the place where the ceremony took place, regardless of the couples’ state of residence.

Governor Phil Bryant has delivered a slap in the face to legally married lesbian and gay service members by refusing to permit them to apply for federally mandated benefits for their families on state owned property. “Once again, Mississippi has proclaimed lesbian and gay residents to be second class citizens,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

“Federal law requires that all legally married service members be permitted to apply for benefits for their families,” said Bear Atwood, Legal Director at the ACLU of Mississippi. “Mississippi should treat all legally married service members equally as they take care of their families.”

“Mississippi is one of just two states that have singled out legally married lesbian and gay service members for discrimination,” continued Atwood. “We should be honoring the sacrifices our service members and their families make to protect the American values of equality for all, not throwing up roadblocks to access to services for some military families.”

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