Hagel Orders Same-Sex Benefits for All National Guards

Image: Hagel Orders Same-Sex Benefits for All National Guards

Friday, 01 Nov 2013 10:26 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the National Guards in all states to issue ID cards that enable same-sex spouses of military members to claim benefits.

Blasting nine states that have refused to do so, Hagel said in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League in New York on Thursday, "This is wrong," reports The Hill.

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“Not only does this violate the states’ obligations under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to,” Hagel said in prepared remarks.

Following the Supreme Court's decision in June to strike down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon issued a directive that same-sex partners of military members would be eligible for the same healthcare, housing, and other benefits available by opposite-sex spouses.

But some states have refused to offer the necessary Pentagon ID cards on National Guard facilities, arguing that doing so conflicted with their state bans on same-sex marriage.
Hagel did not name those states, but the Pentagon has cited nine: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia, reports Fox News.

The Pentagon said there are 114 Army and Air National Guard sites in those states that are not providing ID cards to eligible same-sex spouses.

Hagel said he instructed Gen. Frank Grass, who heads the National Guard, to meet with the Guard state leaders in the nine states to resolve the issue.

A senior defense official told The Hill that Hagel is prepared "to take further action" if the states do not comply.

Hagel announced the order in his keynote address for the ADL's Centennial dinner, which was honoring his predecessor, Leon Panetta.

He also used his speech to announce that he has directed the Marine Corps to expedite the manufacture and delivery to Israel of V-22 Osprey aircraft, hybrids that take off and land like a helicopter and cruise like an airplane, according to Fox.

Urgent: ObamaCare Is About to Strike — Are You Prepared?

Hagel also offered assurances that pursuing diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program is a way of testing Tehran's intentions.

"As we engage Iran with our partners, we are very clear-eyed about reality in the Middle East. But foreign policy is not a zero-sum game," he said. "If we can find ways to resolve disputes peacefully, we are wise to explore them."

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