WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday sharply criticized U.S. states that are defying the Pentagon by refusing to allow National Guard facilities to issue ID cards that enable same-sex spouses of military members to claim benefits.
“This is wrong,” Hagel said in a speech 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,” he said.
Hagel said this is causing division among the military ranks.
In his remarks to an Anti-Defamation League centennial dinner speech, Hagel did not name the states that are defying Pentagon policy on this issue. But the Pentagon has cited nine: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
The Pentagon says there are 114 Army and Air National Guard sites in those nine states that are not providing ID cards to eligible same-sex spouses.