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Federal Benefits to be Extended to Same-Sex Married Couples
On Saturday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech that the federal government will begin treating same-sex married couples as equals with heterosexual married couples, according to The New York Times.
“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.
The changes Holder spoke of in his speech were initiated last year when the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to same-sex married couples. Holder supported the ruling when it was issued.
The Obama administration has rewritten federal rules that now allow same-sex couples to receive Medicare and file taxes jointly since the ruling was issued by the court.
“These issues are very much at the center of this administration’s civil rights legacy,” said Ian S. Thompson. Thompson works on same-sex issues for the ACLU.
Holder spoke in front of the Swedish Parliament and called the fight for gay and lesbian rights one of “the defining civil rights challenges of our time.”
“As all-important as the fight against racial discrimination was then, and remains today, know this: My commitment to confronting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity runs just as deep,” Holder said.
It has been estimated by the government that some 1,100 federal regulations, rights and laws are affected by marital status. Holder said that he wants to make many of those provisions apply to both heterosexual and gay couples.
Same-sex couples will have protections under the spousal privilege during court cases and criminal investigations. This rule states that spouses cannot be forced to testify against their spouse.
Same-sex spouses of police officers killed in the line of duty will be eligible for federal benefits. The Justice Department said it will make same-sex couples eligible for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as well.Federal Benefits to be Extended to Same-Sex Married Couples by Jim Vassallo