The states whose National Guard units continue to deny military benefits to same-sex spouses were taken to task by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Thursday night, in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League.
Denying such benefits "causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish," Hagel said as he relayed a conversation he had earlier that day with Gen. Frank Grass, who is Chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Hagel said Grass "will meet with the adjutants general from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The adjutants general will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions."
While Hagel refrained from individually citing specifics states by name, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, West Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, Indiana and Florida have been previously cited by the Pentagon as being noncompliant with the directive, which was issued in August.
Oklahoma's Gov. Mary Fallin directed her National Guard units to deny benefits to same-sex couples in what turned into a public back and forth in which her office insisted she was following the will of Oklahoma voters.
"All spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them," Hagel said, pointing out that such actions on the parts of the states violate their "obligations under federal law" and create undo hardships on families forced to travel outside of their state to obtain military IDs.
"Whether they are responding to natural disasters here at home, in their states, or fighting in Afghanistan, our National Guardsmen all wear the uniform of the United States of America. They. . . and their families are entitled to all the benefits and respect accorded to all of our military men and women."