Eight states are refusing to grant ID cards to spouses of homosexuals at National Guard bases following orders from new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
Hagel had issued the order in August of this year following the Supreme Court decision to strike down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The ID cards allow the “spouses” of homosexual soldiers to visit and utilize military facilities, and provide a number of benefits delegated by the federal government.
However, while most of the nation complied with Hagel’s instructions, eight states refused. Texas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia and South Carolina stated that the order conflicted with state laws regarding homosexual “marriage.” Officials suggested that homosexuals go to federal facilities to obtain the ID cards rather than seeking them from the state.
But at an event hosted by the Anti-Defamation League this past Thursday, Hagel told those gathered that he had directed the head of the National Guard Bureau, Frank Grass, to meet with each state adjutant general and work to ensure compliance.
“[S]everal states today are refusing to issue these ID cards to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities,” Hagel said of the eight states that had refused his order. “This is wrong. It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DOD has fought to extinguish.”
“Not only does this violate the states’ obligations under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to,” he added.
Hagel was speaking at an event honoring his predecessor Leon Panetta, who supported and oversaw the extending of benefits to homosexuals in the military.
“Extending these benefits is an appropriate next step under current law to ensure that all service members receive equal support for what they do to protect this nation,” he said in February.
Hagel said that he may take “further action” if the states continue to refuse his directives, but it is not clear as to what types of action would be taken to force compliance.
But a spokesperson for Texas Governor Rick Perry said that the state cannot violate its own Constitution.
“The Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such, is obligated to adhere to the Texas constitution and the laws of this state, which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman,” Josh Havens told reporters.
A spokesperson for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin likewise stated that her duty as governor is to defend and enforce the laws of the state.
“Her priority is to obey and protect Oklahoma’s laws while supporting the men and women of the Guard,” Alex Weintz told The Hill.
He said that he believed Obama was attempting to “usurp the power of the states.”
“The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage,” Weintz stated. “He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions.”
Indiana was originally non-compliant with the directive, but has since begun issuing ID cards.