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Florida National Guard Grants Full Benefits To Same-Sex Married Couples

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Sgt. Brandon Morgan, right, is embraced by his partner Dalan Wells in a helicopter hangar at a Marine base in  Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, upon returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan in this photo made Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012.  The photo, made some five months after the repeal of the military's
Sgt. Brandon Morgan, right, is embraced by his partner Dalan Wells in a helicopter hangar at a Marine base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, upon returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan in this photo made Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. The photo, made some five months after the repeal of the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy prohibiting gay servicemen from openly acknowledging their sexuality, is among the first showing a gay active duty serviceman in uniform kissing his partner at a home

There was one step forward for LGBT rights in Florida this week: The state's National Guard announced that same-sex married partners will be granted full benefits even though the Florida constitution doesn't recognize gay marriage.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June on the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon updated its benefits policy to include same-sex husbands and wives.

Yet nine states, including Florida, failed to comply with the new federal policy.

"Not only does this violate the states' obligation under federal law," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, "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."

Lt. Col. James K. Evans of the Florida National Guard reasoned that the federal policy was in direct conflict with the state's constitution which does not recognize gay marriage, according to the Tampa Tribune.

A compromise was reached, however, as the benefits will be processed at federal buildings as opposed to state facilities.

Starting Tuesday, seven National Guard facilities in Florida, including Homestead Air Reserve Base, will process same-sex benefits, as will U.S. military bases in South Florida such as Southern Command in Doral, Opa-locka and Miramar, reports The Miami Herald.

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