Though Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage, the state’s National Guard has announced it will provide married same-sex partners full benefits, reports First Coast News.
The Pentagon had updated its benefits policy to include same-sex spouses in June, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key component of the Defense of Marriage Act. However, the National Guard in Florida was one of the branches from nine different states that did not comply with the updated federal policy at the time, claiming it violated the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the nine state National Guards were "wrong" for not allowing service members to receive military ID cards for their same-sex spouses and ordered National Guard Bureau head Gen. Frank Grass to investigate the matter. "Not only does this violate the states' obligation under federal law, 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," he said during a speech for the Anti-Defamation League's centennial dinner last week.
However, a compromise became possible when it was agreed all same-sex benefits applications will be processed at federal buildings rather than state offices.
As of today, the Florida National Guard is in “full compliance” with the updated federal policy and initial benefits enrollment for same-sex spouses of service members can be done at National Guard facilities throughout the state.