US: Defence Secretary says refusing same-sex IDs is ‘wrong’
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has criticised nine US states for failing to grant full spousal benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian members of America’s armed forces.
“This is wrong and causes divisions among our ranks,” Mr Hagel told an audience at the Anti-Defamation League in New York.
The Defence Secretary has asked the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass, to “take immediate action to remedy this situation,” and to “meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being denied”.
The identification card provide access to commissaries and other services for partners of gay and lesbian service members.
Texas announced that it would not issue ID cards to same-sex spouses at state National Guard facilities because of a “potential conflict” between state law and Defence Department policy.
Eight other states followed suit including Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia, according to a senior defence official.
The official went on to say that 114 Army and Air National Guard facilities across the US have denied same-sex spouses access to military identification cards.
The Pentagon estimates this affects 5,600 active-duty service members and 13,600 National Guard reserves and retirees who are eligible for same-sex spousal benefits.
In February 2013, the previous US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta said: “It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country”.
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