Justice Department on Monday will extend a new package of federal
benefits to same-sex couples that Attorney General Eric Holder said will
give "lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the
greatest extent possible under the law."
remarks prepared for a speech Saturday night to the Human Rights
Campaign in New York, Holder said the new benefits will apply to gay
couples who are legally married, even to those who live in states that
do not recognize same-sex marriage.
The moves are the
latest in a series of actions following the US Supreme Court's ruling in
June that struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which
had barred the federal government from recognizing legally valid
As a result
of the new measures announced Saturday, "our nation moves closer to its
ideals of equality and fairness for all," said Chad Griffin of Human
Under the new
directive, government lawyers will operate under the assumption that
same-sex spouses should have the same rights in federal courts as
opposite-sex couples, such as declining to testify against a spouse.
That rule will apply in federal criminal and civil cases, Holder said,
"even in states where same-sex marriages are not recognized."
couples will also receive federal death benefits and educational
payments given to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer
catastrophic injuries or die in the line of duty.
"The federal government should stand by that hero's spouse — no matter whether that spouse is straight or gay," Holder said.
in federal prison who have same-sex spouses will be given the same
benefits as those in opposite-sex marriages, including visitation rights
and eligibility for compassionate release or reductions in sentences
based on the incapacitation of a spouse.
the Justice Department will take the position that same-sex couples
should be treated equally in federal bankruptcy proceedings.
Holder, who has made
civil rights a priority for the Justice Department, said that as
important as the right against racial discrimination has been, "my
commitment to confronting discrimination based on sexual orientation
runs just as deep."
Wednesday, August 23 2017 11:49 PM EDT2017-08-24 03:49:44 GMT
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