Guard: State Holdouts Will Issue Same-Sex IDs
The chief of the National Guard Bureau on Tuesday said he expects all states to have a plan for becoming compliant with the Defense Department's directive to issue military IDs to spouses of same-sex couples by Dec. 1.
Gen. Frank J. Grass told defense writers that four of nine states that initially refused to issue the IDs have come around, and that he continues to work with the remaining five to find a solution.
"We are adamant that ... benefits will be equally extended [to same-sex couples] just as to heterosexual couples in the Guard," Grass said.
The hold-out states are Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia.
Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, and West Virginia also balked at the new policy initially, but have since come around.
In some cases, such as Florida, the state avoided continuing a clash with the Pentagon by agreeing that the IDs would be processed for both straight and gay dependents from federal offices – not state, Grass said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the IDs would be issued to same-sex couples shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June as unconstitutional.
In August the Pentagon announced that same-sex spouses of active-duty, Reserve and Guard service members, as well as eligible civilian employees and military retirees, would be issued IDs starting on Sept. 3.
But some states that do not recognize same-sex marriages refused to issue the IDs, regardless of DoD policy.
Hagel remarked on the refusal during a speech before the Anti-Defamation League in New York on Oct. 31, calling out the states for violating their obligations under federal law and creating "hardship and inequality [among military families] by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they're entitled to."
"It causes division among our ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish," Hagel told the gathering.
In the same speech he said he directed Grass to meet with the adjutant generals of the refusing states to "remedy this situation."
Grass told reporters on Tuesday he teleconferenced with all nine the next day, Nov. 1, and all have said they are trying to find a way to issue the cards.
"What we're trying to work through with the states is figuring how, when a state law ... doesn't recognize [same-sex couples], how can we as a Guard create a site where everybody goes to, and still not be restrictive in any way whatsoever."
Grass said he expects to report to Hagel by Dec. 1 with the states' plans for becoming compliant.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported all states would be compliant by Dec. 1.
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