After increasing pressure to follow U.S. Department of Defense guidelines, the Texas Military Forces Wednesday allowed Lambda Legal’s client, Alicia Butler the wife of 1st Lt. Judith Chedville to register for federal military benefits at Camp Mabry.
“We are thrilled for Alicia and Judith who just wanted to take steps, like all military families, to access critical support networks and benefits provided to families of service members,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Paul Castillo said. “Texas Military Forces implements a host of federal benefits programs for all National Guard units in the state and it should be no different for married same-sex couples.”
In September, Lambda Legal submitted a letter urging the commanding officer of the Texas Military Forces to abide by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) guidelines and allow married same-sex military couples to register for federal benefits at any military base in the state. Since that first contact, Lambda Legal has engaged in continued aggressive advocacy at all levels to urge this result.
Lambda Legal represents Alicia Butler, the wife of 1st Lt. Judith Chedville, a member of the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Kuwait. In September, after the DoD had issued guidelines on extending benefits to the same-sex spouses of military members, Butler and Chedville went to Camp Mabry in Austin to attempt to register in the federal Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Even after presenting a valid marriage license, Butler and Chedville were denied access to the registration process at Camp Mabry, and were told they would instead have to travel to a federal facility, the closest one requiring a three-hour trip.
“I am so pleased to have this spousal ID card and begin to access a range of benefits,” Butler said. “My wife served our country and our family needs support like all military families.”
Source: Lambda Legal