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Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The North Carolina National Guard will begin recognizing same-sex marriages.

Lt. Col. Maury A. Williams said Monday the guard will abide by US Department of Defense orders extending federal benefits to the same-sex spouses of uniformed service members. Williams said couples who wed in states where same-sex marriage is legal could begin applying for benefits immediately.

The announcement comes a week after National Guard officials in Texas, Alabama and Louisiana announced they will refuse to follow the Pentagon’s policy. All three states led by socially conservative Republican governors.

The change comes two months after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal law forbidding recognition of same-sex unions. North Carolina voters approved a Constitutional amendment in 2012 limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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