In a speech Thursday night (to the Anti-Defamation League), Hagel said:
When the Supreme Court issued its decision on the Defense of Marriage Act this summer, the Department of Defense immediately began working on providing the same benefits to all eligible spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. We did it because everyone who serves our country in uniform, everyone in this country, should receive all the benefits they deserve, and they've earned, and in accordance with the law. Everyone's rights must be protected.
This means that all spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them. But several states today are refusing to issue these IDs to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities. Not only does this violate the states' obligations under federal law, but 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.
This is wrong. It causes division among our ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish, as has the ADL.
Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being declined and denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.It should be noted that the text of Sec. Hagel's remarks were distributed publicly (to media outlets, LGBT bloggers and others) by the White House Office of Communications a few hours after he gave the speech so the Obama Administration is sending a clear message to red state governors that it will not countenance defiance on this issue. There are nine states that the Rachel Maddow show identified as not being compliant with DOD policy on same-sex couples benefits, although that list is now under dispute.
Regardless, it is good to see the Obama administration, in the form of DOD Secretary Hagel speaking up for LGBT equality.