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Hagel: Same-sex Guard spouses getting benefits in all 50 states

WASHINGTON — Same-sex spouses can now get military ID cards in all 50 states, according to the Defense Department.

In a statement Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the chief of the National Guard Bureau had finished work with several states who had previously refused to recognize the legal marriages. Through a patchwork of local and federal offices, those states are now providing the IDs.

The announcement appears to close another problematic chapter for gay servicemembers and their families, one many had hoped was solved when the Supreme Court overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year.

That measure had prohibited federal agencies from offering same-sex couples a host of benefits available to straight married couples. In September, Pentagon officials ordered that married same-sex couples begin receiving housing stipends, health care and related family benefits.

But National Guard officials in nine states refused to issue military ID cards to same-sex spouses, citing their own laws opposing same-sex marriage.

In the end, card machine operators in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas were given temporary federal status — circumventing the state law conflicts — to issue the military IDs and enroll those spouses in the Dependent Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

Officials in Florida, Oklahoma, and South Carolina mandated that same-sex spouses travel to National Guard installations at federal facilities for the IDs, to avoid the same conflicts.

After initially opposing the policy, officials in Indiana and West Virginia dropped their objections and began issuing the IDs at all National Guard facilities.

shane.leo@stripes.com
Twitter: @LeoShane

 

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