By Beth Ford Roth/ KPBS Staff
The same-sex spouses of U.S. service members are now eligible in every state to obtain their Department of Defense identification cards, according to an announcement made today by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel:
“All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country. They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law.
“I will continue to work to ensure our men and women in uniform, as well as their families, have full and equal access to the benefits they deserve."
Several states had been denying same-sex military spouses the same benefits as opposite-sex military spouses. The American Forces Press Service reported back in October that Hagel had urged the chief of the National Guard Bureau to "work with the adjutants general of several states" that were denying benefits to comply with Pentagon policy:
A senior defense official speaking on background said that on Aug. 15, Pentagon officials issued a communication noting the system was updated and that ID cards to same-sex spouses were to be issued by all ID card processing stations starting Sept. 3.
The official noted that nine states -- Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia -- [were] denying equal access for same-sex spouses and [were] violating DOD and service-level policies for administering same-sex couple and family benefits.
Hagel's announcement Friday means all eligible service members, dependents, and retirees can now get their DoD ID cards, regardless of their sexual orientation and the state in which they live.