U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took to task states whose National Guard units still deny military benefits to same-sex spouses, directing them to comply.
Denying such benefits "causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish," Hagel said Thursday in a speech before the Anti-Defamation League.
Hagel said Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, "will meet with the adjutants general from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The adjutants general will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions."
Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia have been cited by the Pentagon previously as being non-compliant with the directive issued in August, CNN reported.
Oklahoma's Gov. Mary Fallin directed National Guard units in her state to deny benefits to same-sex couples, with her office insisting Fallin was following the will of Oklahoma voters.
"All spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them," Hagel said during his speech Thursday, noting that states' actions to deny the benefits violate their "obligations under federal law" and create undo hardships on families forced to travel outside of their state to obtain military IDs.
"Whether they are responding to natural disasters here at home, in their states, or fighting in Afghanistan, our National Guardsmen all wear the uniform of the United States of America," Hagel said. "They ... and their families are entitled to all the benefits and respect accorded to all of our military men and women."
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Original headline: Hagel directs National Guard to comply with same-sex benefits regs
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