Hagel Orders Guards to Grant Benefits

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday ordered all state National Guards to grant same-sex couples full benefits after Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia refused to do so.

In a speech at the Anti-Defamation League in New York Thursday, Hagel said that he was directing the state Guards to issue same-sex couples ID cards and the benefits that come with them. He asked National Guard Chief Gen. Frank Grass to meet with the Guard state leaders in the nine states in order to resolve the issue.

“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, according to prepared remarks of his speech.

A senior defense official said Hagel is prepared “to take further action” if the states do not comply with the Pentagon directive on benefits for same-sex spouses.

Danny Ingram, National Treasurer and Immediate Past President
American Veterans for Equal Rights