EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSID Cards Issued By WV Guard To Same-Sex Spouses
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Dave Benton
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Nov. 8, 2013 3:58 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 9, 2013 11:44 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Equality in marriage - it's one of the hot button issues in our country and, recently, in West Virginia, it’s been in the spotlight.
Even though same sex marriage is still illegal in the state, gay and lesbian couples who married somewhere else and serve in the National Guard in the Mountain State are now getting medical identification cards.
Is this a step forward in the right direction for West Virginia? Eyewitness News took the question to the streets.
Not everyone was in favor of the move.
John Maynard, of Boone County, disagreed with the decision.
“Same sex couples shouldn't have the same benefits as heterosexual couples,” he said. “Yeah, just aint right. Weren't raised around here like that -way we are, I guess.”
Most people interviewed in downtown Charleston supported benefits for gay couples.
“Can't help who you love,” Stephanie Dincil said. “May not agree with that type of relationship, but I wouldn't want to decline anybody of these benefits, especially if they're doing a service for our country.”
Del. Stephen Skinner, a proponent for LGBT rights in West Virginia, supported the decision.
“I think West Virginians want to support the military and support the Guard,” he said. “(They) understand our brave members of the Guard and armed forces deserve equal benefits, regardless of orientation.”
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled marriage equality can't be banned by the federal government, but not all states are on board.
Last month, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Huntington, challenging the ban on marriage equality in West Virginia, another hurdle in the fight for gay rights.
The National Guard had been issuing the IDs to same-sex spouses only at its four federally-run facilities. The five state-run guard facilities are now doing the same.
One man, who wished to remain anonymous, disagreed with gay marriage, but felt same sex couples should get health benefits.
“I don't think two people of the same sex were meant to be together,” he said. “Does that mean they shouldn't have same insurance, benefits? No. ”
Skinner said he doesn't anticipate any legislative action anytime soon dealing with gay marriage in West Virginia.
The National Guard in West Virginia is now granting military ID cards to same-sex spouses, ensuring that they get benefits such as health care.
The Charleston Gazette reported Friday that one ID card has been issued to a same-sex spouse at a National Guard location in Martinsburg. An application is pending at the Air National Guard in Charleston.
The National Guard had been issuing the IDs to same-sex spouses only at its four federally run facilities. The five state-run guard facilities are now doing the same.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had criticized West Virginia and other states that had defied the Pentagon by refusing to allow National Guard facilities to issue ID cards.
West Virginia does not recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
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