National Guard units now compliant with DoD regulations for same-sex partner benefits

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

EqualBack in early November, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered National Guard units in nine mostly Southern GOP governor controlled states to comply with the new Department of Defense same-sex marriage benefits regulations for military spouses and veterans. Secretary Hagel orders national guard units to comply with DoD regulations re: same-sex partner benefits.

After some resistance, particularly from the governors of Oklahoma and Texas, Secretary Hagel announced on Friday that Holdout states now compliant with Pentagon’s same-sex benefits policy:

All states are now processing benefits for same-sex National Guard spouses after several holdouts found ways to implement the policy without violating their constitutional bans on the recognition of gay marriage.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in an announcement Friday that same-sex spouses in every state can now obtain the military ID cards required to receive benefits for wives and husbands of service members.

“All of [the Department of Defense] is committed to pursuing equal opportunities for all who serve this nation, and I will continue to work to ensure our men and women in uniform as well as their families have full and equal access to the benefits they deserve,” Hagel said.

A handful of states, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia, refused to process ID applications for gay spouses after the Pentagon issued a directive requiring the military to treat all legally married couples equally for purposes of federal benefits. The states told same-sex couples they could only apply at federal installations, though heterosexual spouses could submit their paperwork at state facilities.

Hagel directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau in late October to work with state officials to reach compliance with the Defense Department’s new policy. The policy came in response to a landmark Supreme Court decision in June overturning a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act.

Slowly, the holdout states and the National Guard Bureau found workarounds to ensure equal treatment of service members without allowing their employees to process same-sex benefits.

Some states with gay-marriage prohibitions complied with the Defense Department policy right away, saying they could process ID applications for gay spouses without violating their constitutions. They included Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia.

The American Military Partners Association, which advocates for gay rights, commended the Pentagon on Friday.

As Secretary Hagel said last month, "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. They are serving this country. 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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