Breaking: SecDef orders 9 rogue red-state National Guards to recognize spouses of gay US troops

Big news from the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has just said this evening that he is directing rogue National Guard organizations in mostly-southern red states to stop actively discriminating against gay service members, and start issuing Pentagon ID cards to their spouses.

In the past few months, the National Guard in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia has refused to recognize the same-sex spouses of gay service members because of homophobic local Republican politicians.

When the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act was struck down on June 26, 2013, the Pentagon ordered same-sex spouses to be treated the same as the spouses of heterosexual US service members.  The National Guards in the states mentioned above refused to issue ID cards to the spouses of gay service members, arguing that anti-”gay marriage” laws in the states forbade them from doing so.

Secretary Hagel said tonight that those state National Guards are breaking federal law, and DOD policy, and it won’t be tolerated.

dadt white house protest

The fact that Hagel invoked federal law and DOD policy means that the administration now has multiple avenues for forcing compliance, including going to court.

This is a big deal.

Here’s Hagel tonight at a speech at the ADL in NYC:

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 DoD 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 DoD 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.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Mike Meehan

    Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the idiot in Oklahoma’s governor’s mansion did…cut off everyone’s family benefits.

  • Mary O’Grady

    Speaking as a Texan, I think that is sad but true.

  • Xyxox

    Sounds to me like several high ranking National Guard officers are going to end up fired over this.

  • Doug Moore

    Simply close Ft Hood in TX to see how that would work.

  • Doug Moore

    And Ross Barnett governor of MS.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Isn’t he starting to look like Dorian Grey?

  • Drew2u

    Question regarding Russia: Would U.S. action on anti-gay violence in Russia threaten, in any way, nuclear nonproliferation agreements for the future or the disarming of chemical weapons in Syria, oil from Georgia (I think?), or cooperation thereof in regards to North Korea?

  • BillFromDover

    Is this a problem within the national guard, or the governors of your average, ignorant, bigoted, southern red state ordering them not to issue the IDs?

    After all, is not the guard’s 1st allegiance to the federal gobment and not the state’s?

  • perljammer

    So in other words, you don’t know how that would work out.

    The correct way to deal with insubordination is to hold the insubordinate individual accountable. In this case, that may mean forcing some people into early retirement, although I suspect that the root of the problem lies with the various state governors — good luck to DoD getting that group’s cooperation. Understand that unless a Guard unit is activated, the chain of command is at the state level, not Federal. As usual, the situation is more complex than one might wish.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Oh yeah, forgot about that one. It’s a general-purpose reason for not wanting to live in the modern era.

  • Corgidad

    I am retired Army, and my partner and I got married in CA recently. When we got back home (Georgia), we went to an Army Reserve facility in Atlanta to get my partner’s ID card. We encountered no problems and it was a smooth process. The clerk even had a cheat sheet on which States recognize same sex marriage. :) Anyway, the National Guard is acting pretty stupid if you ask me. But I think some heads will roll over this, as they should.

  • cinorjer

    It’ll be the usual “state’s rights” crap we’ve been getting from the Southern ex-Confederate states all along.

  • http://wiseoldsnail.org/ wiseoldsnail

    oh, they’d want texas back, they just wouldn’t want most texans

  • http://wiseoldsnail.org/ wiseoldsnail

    ahahahaha! i just repeated this concept to someone on the phone a few minutes ago … oh, the wisdom of a half-time quitter governor …. ! of course i would love to live in a world where my doctor would accept goods from my harvest for treatment ! but alas, those days are long gone, for now

  • Jennifer

    Hell no. The land is ours and the good people who live there who want to be part of the U.S. deserve our support. Let the knuckleheads leave. Find some 3rd world country with a government they can drown in a bathtub and doctors who will treat them for cucumbers and zucchini from their gardens. Maybe an old rooster every now and then or some fresh eggs.

  • Jennifer

    A. Texas has quite a few bases. B. If Texas National Guard refuses to follow orders from the CIC, SecDef, and/or DoD I’d suggest they start figuring out how they fit in the scheme of things. Following orders is not negotiable. C. Choices have consequences. One would hope Texas would choose to serve its own citizens and to be loyal to the Unites States.

  • EdA

    Given that so many bases are located (not by accident) in the slave states of the former Confederacy, which elect sociopaths who believe that the government spends too much except for the welfare that their states receive, it seems to me, also, that base realignment would be in order.

  • silas1898

    Lieberman’s face just popped into my head.

  • Indigo

    I suspect they don’t want it back.

  • perljammer

    I did read what you wrote. I understand; you think this would be a good way to punish the people you think deserve to be punished. I just wanted to know how you think it would work in the real world where actions have consequences (many of them unintended). Let’s say I’m a soldier in the Texas National Guard, and you’ve moved my base to New Mexico. A hurricane hits Brownesville, and my unit gets activated to provide emergency response. Where do I report? Where is the commander? Where is the unit’s complement of equipment?

  • Bill3419

    On the money side we could sell Texas to Mexico.

  • Jennifer

    I said some bases. Why don’t you just go back and read what I wrote? In my opinion some bases could and should be moved away from states whose governors talk about seceding (Texas) and who direct the National Guard not to follow legal orders coming from the CIC, SecDef or DoD.

  • tomtallis

    Hegel should simply set a deadline and if they don’t comply, cut off the federal funding.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    I can hear the argument that these states will make: something something religious freedom, god, unnatural, something something.

    Glad to see the Secretary of Defense tackle this head on. People who serve in the armed forces don’t need this additional hardship.

  • perljammer

    Generally speaking, National Guard Units (when active) are based at active military bases. Your original post appears to be suggesting that the active military bases in the subject states should be moved. But your reply above says you weren’t talking about moving the National Guard Units. I am still curious to know how you think such an arrangement would work in the real world.

  • Jennifer

    I said bases not guard units.

  • Jennifer

    Yes, I know. I’ve been stationed at a couple. There are a few lateral moves that could be made from Texas to New Mexico and Colorado. And another from Arizona to either California or New Mexico. Colorado already has MI facilities so it would be practical for one of them. And New Mexico needs the revenue and has lots of land and is close to the border so it would be practical for another.

  • rmthunter

    In some cases, there are governors involved, ordering the National Guard not to issue the IDs. They’re outside the chain of command, and they could very well be the ones to file suit. Or the state AGs.

    Remember, we’re talking about people who will stop at nothing to have their way.

  • KYrocky

    The do not need to go to court, it is the military and the military can enforce its Code of Conduct as it chooses. If they do not obey their orders then allow them to resign or give them a dishonorable discharge.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Interesting. LOL

  • Indigo

    I agree that that’s the humanitarian explanation but the economic explanation was also in play. We wanted that cotton and we wanted to hang onto that territory. It wouldn’t do for the British to have annexed or finagled their way into the South.

  • perljammer

    It would be very interesting to watch what would unfold if an attempt was made to move a state’s National Guard unit out of its state. I am curious to know how you think that might be possible.

  • Thom Allen

    For the bases that refuse to obey: cut back funding, deny ALL spouses access to on-base activities and commissary (only the serving member of the family can shop there, not spouses), replace the serving officers who refuse to issue IDs after reprimanding them, in writing, for failure to follow orders and forcing LGBT service members to travel elsewhere to get what they were supposed to get on base.

  • S1AMER

    Thank you, Mr. Secretary!

    What the governors of these states has done is one of the pettiest bits of gay-bashing going.

  • caphillprof

    I think a major problem with the Democratic side of the aisle is the lack of punishment for their opponents.

  • caphillprof

    I don’t buy this argument.

  • Bomer

    Yeah, I’m stuck in one of those states. I would be more than happy to see the back side of it if I could afford to move the hell out of it.

  • http://funnyoddthing.blogspot.com frizbeesf

    KKK Alumni Antonette “Tony” Perkins will be on with Wolf Blitzer soon I am sure with his panties all in a twist … let the waaahmbulance sirens sound!

  • rmthunter

    They’ll go to court. It’s just another facet of the obstructionism that is the GOP these days. I’ve been thinking that the “conservatives” would use the same tactics on gay civil rights that they’ve used against every other group — state laws that chip away at court-mandated rights (reproductive rights, voting rights) and lawsuits out the wazoo.

    And when the Supreme Court finally strikes down the state DOMAs and constitutional amendments, any guesses how many of them will stay on the books?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    For the same reason we didn’t let ‘em in 1860. There are lots of decent folks in those states who deserve better than what they’ve got.

  • Jim Olson

    Oh, there are all sorts of things that the red states are doing to thwart progress. These are some of the same states that refused to set up their own health care exchanges, and even refused to take the expansion money. They just fundamentally (and I use that word deliberately) believe themselves to be so wholly at odds with the rest of the country, that they will do anything. Why did we not let these states secede?

  • https://www.facebook.com/etseq97 etseq

    It ain’t called the Supremacy Clause for nothing. And if they really want to play hardball, the President can always nationalize the state guards like we did in the 60s when those Peckerwoods like Wallace wanted to stop integration.

  • judybrowni

    No, Red States you are not some special snowflakes that get to ignore the law and be bigots just ’cause you feel like it.

    Grow the fuck up.

  • Jim Olson

    Next time there is base realignment this should be part of the discussion, however.

  • pappyvet

    Bigotry is the only thing that should be denied here

  • Drew2u

    It’s a nice idea, but a lot of the bases are there for strategic reasons; same was true in the Civil War. Same goes for, say, military bases in Kansas and Nebraska, away from any coasts and in the center of the country.
    Not saying there wouldn’t be a way to trim some of them, of course.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Which, seems to me, should be what is happening… not another order, because the first one wasn’t quite clear enough to get through bigot ears.

  • Jennifer

    I think it’s time to move some bases out of those states and into states that don’t want to secede, too. If they can’t obey military law and we can’t trust them not to turn their weapons on the rest of us and they are so backward that they hate LGBTs then they sure as hell don’t deserve the bases and revenue they bring in.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    No, but they can be brought up on charges for failing to obey lawful orders and discharged dishonorably.

  • debbieqd

    Awesome. I’m loving Secretary Hagel tonight. He means business.

  • Indigo

    Can they be shot for refusing to obey orders? That would be interesting.

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