Secretary Hagel orders national guard units to comply with DoD regulations re: same-sex partner benefits


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Several "Red States" have had their national guard units refuse to process requests for same-sex partner benefits, despite the Department of Defense (DoD) having brought its rules and regulations into compliance in September with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Apparently these "Red State" Neo-Confederates have decided to engage in massive resistance to the Supreme Court's decision, much the way some of these same states did in response to the Supreme Court decision ending segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. It took Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson nationalizing state guard units to enforce Supreme Court decisions for the desegregation of public schools. There is no reason to believe that President Obama will not faithfully execute the laws of the United States in the same manner if necessary.

Last night, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave a speech to the Anti-Defamation League in which he addressed this "Red State" refusal to comply with DoD rules and regulations regarding same-sex partner benefits. Secretary Hagel's address to the ADL (excerpt):

The balance between security and civil rights sends an important message to the world. At the Department of Defense, we work to preserve America’s individual liberties as well as defend our freedom.

When the Supreme Court issued its decision on the Defense of Marriage Act this summer, the Department of Defense immediately began working on providing the same benefits to all eligible spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. We did it because everyone who serves our country in uniform should receive the full benefits they earned, fairly and in accordance with the law. Everyone’s rights must be protected.

This means that all spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them. But several states are refusing to issue these IDs to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities. 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.

This is wrong. It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish.

Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he 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.

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.

Nine states — Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia — are denying equal access for same-sex spouses and are violating DOD and service-level policies for administering same-sex couple and family benefits.