WASHINGTON — National Guard units in nine states that have been balking at issuing identification cards for same-sex military spouses have been brought into compliance under orders from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
That comes nearly three months after U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged Hagel’s intervention in four states where the National Guard — citing state prohibitions against gay marriage — refused to handle applications for benefits from same-sex spouses of service members. Instead, the members were directed to federal facilities farther away.
The Pentagon on Sept. 3 began providing health coverage, housing allowances and other benefits to same-sex spouses. That followed a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as between and man and a woman, as unconstitutional.
But nine states ultimately refused to handle IDs for same-sex married service members as they did for all others: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Smith and Levin argued the National Guard is largely funded with federal dollars and cannot ignore Pentagon orders that military couples be treated equally.
Smith had earlier introduced legislation to exempt the Defense Department from DOMA, clearing the way for federal benefits. Instead, the Supreme Court’s decision made that possible.