Defense Secretary Berates States for Denying Benefits

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has strong words for states that are refusing to allow National Guard facilities to issue ID cards that enable same-sex partners of military members to claim benefits.

"This is wrong", Hagel said in New York, "Not only does this violate the states' obligation 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."

Although Defense Secretary Hagel did not name the nine states during his speech to the Anti-Defamation League, they are Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. In these nine states there are 114 Army and Air National Guard bases.

The policy to give benefits to same-sex couples began on Sep. 3, after the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in June.

Hagel has told the National Guard Bureau chief General Frank Grass to "take immediate action to remedy the situation", although it is unclear what legal authority Gen. Grass has to force the states to comply.