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Hagel: All states will begin processing same-sex benefits requests

Dec. 13, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday that the nine states that were refusing to recognize the military's new policy on extending full benefits to troops with same-sex spouses have all formally dropped their opposition. (Paul J. Richards / AFP via Getty Images)
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The nine states that were refusing to recognize the military’s new policy on extending full benefits to troops with same-sex spouses have all formally dropped their opposition.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday that six weeks of negotiations with the National Guard Bureau and state-level officials has resolved the political concerns and legal issues from the states, which included Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia.

Those states were refusing to issue military identification cards to same-sex spouses in state-run offices despite the Pentagon’s policy change in June. The Pentagon change stemmed from the U.S. Supreme decision in June that declared the federal law banning same-sex benefits to be unconstitutional.

“All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country,” Hagel said in a statement Friday. “They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law.”

Under the Defense Department’s new rules, all legally married spouses will be treated equally for purposes of benefits.

Each state, some of which have laws barring same-sex marriages, had to develop its own way to circumvent the political and legal barriers to issuing gay and lesbian spouses official military identification cards.

Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas are placing the identification card machine operators in a temporary federal status to issue ID cards and enroll same-sex spouses in the Dependent Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS.

Florida, Oklahoma, and South Carolina moved the National Guard ID card machines to facilities on federal installations to avoid any conflict with state laws.

Indiana and West Virginia simply dropped their opposition and have begun processing ID cards and DEERS enrollments at all guard facilities.

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