Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday
released a statement saying that all states are now processing health
benefits for gay and lesbian troops.
“On Oct. 31, I called on the chief of
the National Guard Bureau to work with several states to fully
implement Department of Defense policy by providing DoD
identification cards to all eligible military spouses, regardless of
sexual orientation,” Hagel said in the statement. “Following
consultations between the National Guard Bureau and the adjutants
general of the states, all eligible service members, dependents and
retirees – including same-sex spouses – are now able to obtain ID
cards in every state.”
The Pentagon announced in August that
it would recognize the legal marriages of gay troops following a
Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),
which prohibited federal agencies from recognizing such unions.
As of September 3, service members in a
marriage with a member of the same sex could apply for spousal
But National Guard bases in several
states refused to process the requests and instead encouraged gay
troops to enroll at bases operated by the Department of Defense. The
Pentagon previously identified 9 states opposed to the policy change:
Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South
Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
According to several media reports,
some of the states have transferred the responsibility to federal
workers. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, was widely
criticized last month when she ordered state-owned National Guard
bases to no longer process the applications.
Mary Fallin halts processing of benefits rather than serve gay
“All military spouses and families
sacrifice on behalf of our country. They deserve our respect and the
benefits they are entitled to under the law. All of DoD is committed
to pursuing equal opportunities for all who serve this nation, and I
will continue to work to ensure our men and women in uniform as well
as their families have full and equal access to the benefits they
deserve,” Hagel said.