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Chuck Hagel Blasts States On Gay Marriage Benefits Policy

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US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Washington, DC, October 28, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON | Getty

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is criticizing U.S. states that refuse to issue Defense Department identification cards — and the benefits that go with them — to same-sex spouses of military members at National Guard facilities.

In remarks prepared for delivery in New York on Thursday evening, Hagel says these states are violating their obligations under federal law. And he says they are creating hardship and inequality by forcing legally married gay partners to travel to federal military bases to get the ID cards to which they are entitled.

Hagel does not name the states, but the Pentagon has cited nine: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Same-sex spouses of military members became eligible Sept. 3 for the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

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