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Indiana National Guard admits delay in same-sex military benefits

  |   Nov. 1, 2013 at 2:15 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Same-sex benefits were delayed to Indiana National Guard members but not denied, the Guard said Friday in response to criticism from the Secretary of Defense.

Processing of military benefits, in the form of identification cards allowing same-sex partners of military personnel to claim healthcare, housing and other benefits, began on Oct. 3, said Indiana National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cathleen Van Bree.

The Pentagon's policy allowing same-sex partners to claim benefits went into effect Sept. 3. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was critical of states whose National Guard units deny the military benefits to same-sex spouses, directing them to comply, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Denying such benefits "causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish," Hagel said Thursday in a speech before the Anti-Defamation League.

Hagel said Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, "will meet with the adjutants general from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The adjutants general will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions."

Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia have been cited by the Pentagon previously as being non-compliant with the directive issued in August, CNN reported.

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