Defense secretary tells Oklahoma Guard to process benefit requests for same-sex military spouses

Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel on Thursday ordered commanders of state National Guards, including Oklahoma’s to process benefits for same-sex Guard spouses. The order contradicts position taken by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin that this would conflict with state’s constitution.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: November 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm •  Published: November 1, 2013
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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday ordered the Oklahoma National Guard to start issuing military ID cards and providing military benefits to same-sex couples, conflicting with Gov. Mary Fallin’s position that this would conflict with the state’s constitution.

Hagel spoke Thursday night at the Anti-Defamation League's centennial dinner speech in Washington, D.C. He criticized states that have not issued the ID cards that allow same-sex spouses to claim military benefits.

“Not only does this violate the states' obligation 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,” Hagel said.

Oklahoma is one of nine states not issuing the IDs. Gov. Mary Fallin’s office told the Guard in September that doing so would violate the state's voter-passed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The military, including the Oklahoma National Guard, began processing the requests following the Supreme Court's decision to throw out the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June. Fallin’s office told the Guard in September that processing such requests would be a constitutional violation. The Guard had processed two such requests at that point.

Same-sex National Guard couples can apply for IDs and benefits at federal military installations including Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill.

Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, the adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard, now has conflicting advice from his military superiors and the governor, who commands the Guard.



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