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Gay rights groups praise Hagel’s stance on ‘rogue’ Guard officials

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses sailors aboard the USS Stethem in Yokosuka, Japan, on Oct. 4, 2013. <br>Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses sailors aboard the USS Stethem in Yokosuka, Japan, on Oct. 4, 2013.

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s strong words Thursday against state National Guard officials refusing to issue IDs to same-sex military spouses drew immediate praise from gay rights advocates, who have decried the problem for months.

In remarks before an Anti-Defamation League even in New York, Hagel said the move violates federal law and is an insult to military families. Pentagon officials said state Guard facilities in nine states have refused to provide ID cards to eligible same-sex spouses, citing state opposition to same-sex marriages.

Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association, said Hagel’s comments “made it clear the National Guard in these few rogue states are failing to live up to their obligations to military families under federal law.” The group hopes states will drop their opposition and start issuing IDs.

“No matter what state of our great nation they serve in, no military spouse should be treated differently just because of their orientation," he said in a statement.

Officials from SPART*A, a gay rights advocacy group with active-duty and veteran members, echoed that sentiment, saying Hagel was “standing up” for all military families.

“Our National Guard brothers and sisters have deployed with us around the world, in harm’s way, often very far from their loved ones,” they said in a statement, “They deserve respect for themselves and their families.”

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