Several Republican states are collectively refusing to observe Pentagon orders to distribute identity cards to same-sex military spouses, accusing the Obama administration of exploiting the armed forces for political gain.
The Department of Defense first delivered the much-debated order in September, aiming to provide same-sex military spouses with the same benefits afforded to heterosexual married service members.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin spoke out against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, demanding that they "stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda.
" Fallin further argued, "The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions."
Likewise, Texas Governor Rick Perry weighed in on the issue, maintaining,
"Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman."
Like Oklahoma and Texas, Louisiana National Guard has refused to issue the identity cards, citing state law prohibitions. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Mazmierzak, spokesman for the state guard, asserts that Louisiana's constitution "does not recognize same-sex marriage, nor does it allow a state official to take part in an act that recognizes same-sex marriage."
Department of Defense officials identified six other refusing states: Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina and West Virginia. Following the release of such information, however, Indiana submitted to the Pentagon its willingness to comply with the policy.
Hagel openly targeted the refusing Republican states last week, specifically admonishing them for forcing their same-sex couples to travel to a federal base to obtain the identity cards.
"This is wrong", Hagel argued. "It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which the Defense of Department has fought to extinguish." Hagel then urged the National Guard to resolve the matter with state leaders, whom, he contends, are "creat[ing] hardship and inequality" for same-sex service members by refusing to adhere to the obligations. Hagel specifically directed the National Guard to let the refusing states know they are "expected to comply with both lawful direction and Department of Defense policy."
Pentagon officials are said to be evaluating their potential courses of action if the refusing states continue to resist. Many expect the Pentagon to apply pressure by completely removing identity card machines from all National Guard facilities, thereby forcing heterosexual spouses to travel to federal bases in order to obtain cards.