Some National Guard units, primarily in the South, have decided that federal law somehow doesn’t apply to them, and have refused to treat married same-sex couples equally. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is now explaining to them that he is sorry, but that is not how it works:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday ordered the head of the National Guard Bureau to “take immediate action” to ensure that married same-sex couples are treated equally by the states’ National Guard operations.

In a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, Hagel noted that the same-sex spouses of service members have been made eligible for Defense Department ID cards following the Supreme Court’s June decision striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“[S]everal states are refusing to issue these IDs to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities,” he noted, according to prepared remarks of his speech, a reference to Texas and several other states’ decisions that followed not to allow same-sex spouses to receive an ID card at a state facility because of a state law or constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages.

“Not only does this violate the states’ obligations 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. This is wrong. It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish,” Hagel said.

He continued: “Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he 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.”

We’ve reached the phase in the fight for equality where certain states and people are having to be dragged onto the ride side of history kicking and screaming, and the list of rogue state units is the same list that’s always kicking and screaming on issues like these: Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.

It’s great to see true leadership from Hagel on this.