National Guard Chief Directed To Resolve Marriage Benefits Dispute

Nov 7, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau to work with Oklahoma and seven other states in resolving a dispute over the processing of benefits for same-sex couples.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Credit Secretary of Defense / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday that Oklahoma would stop processing all military spouse benefits instead of accepting application from same-sex couples. “Oklahoma law is clear,” Fallin said in a statement announcing the new policy. “The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state Constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.”

The U.S. Department of Defense, however, appeared so see things differently Thursday. “These are federal ID cards paid for with federal funding to provide federally mandated benefits,” a defense official said in an email. “The Secretary (of Defense) has directed General (Frank) Grass to resolve this issue with (the adjutant generals).” Grass leads the National Guard Bureau.