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National Guard is new gay rights battleground as four states refuse to handle federal benefits

The National Guard is quietly emerging as a gay rights battleground.

Oklahoma became the fourth state this month to refuse to order its National Guard to process federal benefits applications for same-sex couples, joining Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in setting up a potential conflict with the Obama administration and gay rights advocates.

National Guard units have a unique status, existing under the authority of their respective states and the federal government.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Military Partners Association, a gay service members group, launched a petition last week calling on the Pentagon to “put these states in line and enforce equal access to benefits for all military families nationwide.”

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