During his speech at the Anti-Defamation League centennial dinner, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed his disappointment in the National Guard state affiliates that are blocking the spousal benefits now available for same-sex military couples.
The Associated Press reported that while the defense secretary did not name the states during the Oct. 31 event, he did criticize their decision to withhold the benefits while also highlighting the effects it has had on gay servicemembers.
"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 during his speech.
Following the landmark Supreme Court decision that overturned a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, which blocked same-sex marriage from being recognized by federal agencies, the Department of Defense changed its spousal benefits policy, extending it to gay couples with a valid marriage license. Since same-sex marriage is legal in only 13 states, the DOD has been granting gay servicemembers seven days of leave to travel with their partner to states where a marriage license can be obtained. However, many National Guard sites have been denying same-sex military couples who have a marriage license the various benefits, while reports of discrimination from base officials have also surfaced, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the news source, there are currently 114 Army and Air National Guard offices in nine states refusing to provide benefits to same-sex military couples.