In a fashion similar to Alabama Governor George Wallace standing in the school doorway to stop integration at the University of Alabama in 1963, three Southern States has refused to obey the order of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to offer benefits to LGBT National Guard members. In a shocking attempt of modern day nullification, Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma made clear they will not offer benefits to LGBT members of their National Guards.
Before the Secretary's speech, nine states were denying benefits. In addition to the above three, the others were Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.
So far, only the three states have directly challenged the Secretary of Defense's order. In those three states there are a total 45,872 National Guard members.
Most all of the funding for the National Guard comes from the Federal Government.
In a speech in New York, the Secretary of Defense insisted that the nine National Guards refusing to issue benefits for LGBT American fall into compliance. He said:
The balance between security and civil rights sends an important message to the world. At the Department of Defense, we work to preserve America’s individual liberties as well as defend our freedom.
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 should receive the full benefits they earned, fairly and in accordance with the law. Everyone’s rights must be protected.
This means that all spouses of service members are entitled to Department of Defense ID cards, and the benefits that come with them. But several states 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, 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 the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish.
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 denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and Department of Defense policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.
Whether they are responding to natural disasters here at home, in their states, or fighting in Afghanistan, our National Guardsmen all wear the uniform of the United States of America. They are serving this country. They – and their families – are entitled to all the benefits and respect accorded to all of our military men and women.