Hagel: Same-sex National Guard spouses in all 50 states to receive benefits

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a statement today to state unequivocally that all gay and lesbian spouses of those serving in the National Guard are to receive military ID cards, the same as their heterosexual counterparts.

Hagel’s statement in full:

On Oct. 31, I called on the chief of the National Guard Bureau to work with several states to fully implement Department of Defense policy by providing DoD identification cards to all eligible military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation.

Following consultations between the National Guard Bureau and the adjutants general of the states, all eligible service members, dependents and retirees – including same-sex spouses – are now able to obtain ID cards in every state. All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country.

They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law.  All of DoD 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.

Several states, including Georgia, refused to follow the mandate Hagel issued, including citing their state’s constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Georgia this week, however, relented, leaving Mississippi as the last state to hold out from following Hagel’s orders.

As of today, all states are in compliance in the issuing of military IDs.

The American Military Partner Association, a national group providing resources for LGBT military spouses and their families, praised Hagel and President Obama’s administration for ensuring same-sex spouses in all 50 states are treated fairly but said more battles are to be fought for full equality.

“Our military families serving in non-marriage equality states still face discouraging challenges because of the discrimination and exclusion by state governments. We look forward to the day when our military families are treated equally in all 50 states of our nation,” said Stephen Peters, president of AMPA in a statement.

The official policy on same-sex partners in the military was changed after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a major portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.