September 19, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Carney unaware nat’l guards withholding gay troop benefits
Jay Carney, White House, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he’s unaware state national guards are withholing spousal benefits to gay troops (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas).

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he was unaware of state national guards withholding spousal benefits for gay troops despite a Pentagon directive saying they should be available nationwide — but he pledged to “talk about” the administration’s position at a later time.

In response to a question from Washington Blade, Carney said on Thursday he couldn’t speak to whether President Obama was aware installations in these states were withholding benefits and no provided  immediate response from the podium.

“I do not know the answer to the question about the president,” Carney said. “I would refer you to the Department of Defense on it. I can take your question and we can talk about it later. I’m just not aware of these developments.”

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin ordered her state’s national guard to stop processing spousal benefits for troops in same-sex marriages despite a directive from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying benefits should be available to legally married gay service members — even in the states that don’t recognize their union. That decision means Oklahoma will join Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana in withholding these benefits.

The Pentagon has said troops in these states can apply for benefits at federally run installations, but has declined to comment on whether these national guards are acting within legal authority. The American Military Partner Association has said there should be consequences for these national guards in terms of federal funds.

Here’s the Q&A:

Washington Blade: The Oklahoma National Guard announced this week it would no longer process spousal benefit applications for troops in same-sex marriage despite guidance from the Pentagon saying these benefits should be available nationwide. This means Oklahoma is joining Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana in withholding these benefits. Is the President aware of this and believe these installations are violating federal policy?

Jay Carney: I do not know the answer to the question about the president. I would refer you to the Department of Defense on it. I can take your question and we can talk about it later. I’m just not aware of these developments.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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