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South Carolina National Guard refuses to process gay couples’ benefits at state facilities

State follows example of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma

South Carolina State Adjutant General Robert Livingston. Credit: nationalguard.mil

Like Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma, South Carolina's National Guard won't process requests for military benefits for same-sex couples at state facilities, QNotes reports.

The state guard is directing such requests to federal installations, the report says.

"The state law does not allow us to recognize same-sex unions," State Adjutant General Robert Livingston says.

In 2006, South Carolina voters approved a state constitutional amendment that recognizes only heterosexual marriage.

Livingston said his command answers to both the Department of Defense and ultimately the president, as well as the state's governor.

“My job as the chief administrative officer for the South Carolina National Guard is to obey both directives and obey both constitutions,” Livingston explains.

To avoid conflict with state law, Livingston says federal employees will record the status of a same-sex partnership in federal facilities.

He added that his office is discussing the matter with the state attorney-general's office, and a legal review may be in the cards.

“As we further review state law, we may be able to still use federal employees in state facilities, but we’re taking a very conservative approach right now.”

“The overriding piece of this is care for our soldiers and our airmen and their families because of the great service they provide to our nation,” he told The Greenville News. “That’s the big thing. We don’t want to violate laws, and we’re not going to violate laws. But we want to make sure our people get the benefits that they earned, according to the applicable regulations.”

The president of the American Military Partner Association says the Obama Administration and the Department of Defense must address the “supposed conflict” between federal and state law.

“We are very concerned that this same rationale will be used to deny our military spouses access to family readiness groups, marriage enrichment retreats, and other events at National Guard facilities in these minority of states that are refusing to comply with the Defense Department direction,” Stephen Peters says in an Oct 1 press release.