Justice Department Expands Its Offerings to Same-Sex Marriages
Matt | On 11, Feb 2014
In big news over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder said he would direct the U.S. Department of Justice (see PDF) to broaden the scope of benefits and recognitions it would apply to same-sex couples who are married. The news was welcomed by gay rights advocates and those championing broader equality for couples at the federal level.
The federal decision will only impact married same-sex couples who are receiving or requesting FEDERAL services. The changes will apply to all states, including the 34 who do not recognize same-sex marriage.
“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages,” Holder said in a prepared statement, according to TIME magazine.
Here’s a breakdown of some of what can or will change:
- Federal bankruptcy proceedings will be recognized across state lines.
- Prisoners in federal facilities will be allowed to have their spouses visit and receive correspondence from them.
- Surviving spouses of police and firefighters will be able to receive benefits.
- Spouses will not have to testify against each other in federal court — thus allowing them to retain the right to marital privilege.
What I see here is a lot of follow-through from Attorney General Holder on issues such as DOMA being struck down in 2013. He simply wants to make the processes for same-sex couples as fair and uniform as possible on the federal level. With more states recognizing same-sex marriage and other vehemently resisting, it is important that the federal government offer a clear path for same-sex couples. This is in line with both their innate civil rights and equal protections due to them under the law.
A move like this just makes good sense and levels the playing field more.