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US: Defense Secretary urged to press state National Guards to process gay couples’ benefits

Armed Services committee leaders call for equal treatment

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Credit: wikimedia.org

With Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Carolina National Guards refusing to process military benefits for same-sex couples at state facilities, both the heads of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have written to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, calling on him to "issue further guidance on the matter," Pink News reports.

Democrat Adam Smith and Republican Carl Levin are urging Hagel to intervene in the matter and advise the Guards to follow a Pentagon directive to treat same-sex military personnel equally.

Some state National Guards have been redirecting benefits requests to federal installations, saying it would be illegal to process them in state facilities as state law doesn't allow them to recognize same-sex partnerships.

But the Congressional leaders' letter stated that National Guards "are funded in large part by federal tax dollars" and referred to the June decision of the US Supreme Court that struck down a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.