Now Same-Sex Marriages Receive Same Privileges and Protections Under Federal Law

In a speech at the Human Rights Watch’s Greater New York Gala, Attorney General Eric Holder made a bold declaration, “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 under federal law.”

This means that for the first time, married same-sex couples have the same protections as all married couples in legal proceedings.

The Obama administration has taken several steps to ensure equal protection for same-sex couples over the last few years. The military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy was reversed and the government refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), including when the case reached the Supreme Court. It was there that SCOTUS declared DOMA unconstitutional, making legally married same-sex couples eligible for federal benefits. Since then, married same-sex couples can now file joint federal tax returns, have access to military spousal benefits, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Programs if they quality.

All legally married same-sex couples are eligible for federal benefits even if they reside in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

With the new directive, married same-sex couples gain new protections under federal law. In federal civil and criminal proceedings spouses have the same legal rights, including not being compelled to give testimony against their spouse. The DOJ policy states that the federal government cannot object when someone invokes this right, even if the state does not recognize same-sex marriage. In bankruptcy proceedings, couples can now file jointly and include alimony payments to a former same-sex spouse as a debt. Federal prisoners will now have the same spousal privileges regarding such things as visitation and compassionate release when a spouse is incapacitated.

This isn’t the first time that the DOJ has used its policy power to grant benefits to same-sex couples.

The justice department has already approved policy changes in other agencies. As of last summer, federal employees in same-sex marriages can apply for medical, dental and retirement benefits to include their spouses. Joint placement in retirement homes as allowed by Medicare is also now available. Social Security death benefits will be paid to a surviving spouse and green cards can be issued to foreign national same-sex spouses.

In addition to the legal protections, Holder will make same-sex spouses eligible for benefit funds run by the justice department. This means surviving spouses can now receive death benefits when law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty, as well as from the September 11th Victims’ Compensation Fund.

As the legalization of same-sex marriage slowly makes its way through the states (Nevada and Virginia are the latest states to no longer defend their states’ marriage bans), the Obama administration is committed to giving protections wherever same-sex couples live. “We are, right now, in the middle of marking a number of 50-year anniversaries of key milestones in the civil rights movement,” Holder said Saturday night. “And yet, 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.”

The nation marches on, one policy memo at a time.

130 comments

Gerald L.
Gerald L.3 months ago

The Bible calls gays an abomination. If being gay is an abomination, why are people born gay? Gay people deserve the right to marry so that they no longer face the discrimination They now cope with. This isn't about the Bible, or even about the Jewish God. Many are born gay and face ridicule, and hate. When a gay couple spends their entire lives together they are ignored. If one dies the family of the deceased person can come in an take everything unless the surviving person can prove they own it. Straight people never see that kind of horror because the law protects them. Gay people don't have that protection. Gay marriage is about that. It is about being legally protected, it is about shared love, and it is about being equal citizens instead of always being 3rd class citizens at best. Quote your bible verses all you want but you are only showing your ignorance and stupidity. That is something we all see, and recognize in you. You don't matter.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.4 months ago

Care2 has a technical problem which has been going on for 17 days. Every time I open up this Post Chazz Y. comment from 23 days ago Reposts.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.4 months ago

The Bible calls gays an abomination. If being gay is an abomination, why are people born gay? Gay people deserve the right to marry so that they no longer face the discrimination They now cope with. This isn't about the Bible, or even about the Jewish God. Many are born gay and face ridicule, and hate. When a gay couple spends their entire lives together they are ignored. If one dies the family of the deceased person can come in an take everything unless the surviving person can prove they own it. Straight people never see that kind of horror because the law protects them. Gay people don't have that protection. Gay marriage is about that. It is about being legally protected, it is about shared love, and it is about being equal citizens instead of always being 3rd class citizens at best. Quote your bible verses all you want but you are only showing your ignorance and stupidity. That is something we all see, and recognize in you. You don't matter.

Chazz Y.
Chazz Y.4 months ago

I was born gay, I nearly committed suicide trying to change who I am. I was born gay and many of us are born gay. We face ridicule, and we face being pushed out of the lives or every one around us. No one in their right mind would choose to be gay on purpose.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.4 months ago

Chazz not all are born gay. For some it is learned. Example a 4 year old boy was being raped by his 8 year old neighbour. The 4 year old was enjoying the anal sex and likely the sex they may have been having with the 8 year old boys 2 sisters.



The mother of the 4 year old found out when he asked his grandmother if he could eat her out. It has been an ordeal trying to stop this sexual activity. There is no Victims of Crime Fund available because the children were minors. The young boy has to be monitored constantly at School and around other children.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.4 months ago

The Bible calls gays an abomination. If being gay is an abomination, why are people born gay? Gay people deserve the right to marry so that they no longer face the discrimination They now cope with. This isn't about the Bible, or even about the Jewish God. Many are born gay and face ridicule, and hate. When a gay couple spends their entire lives together they are ignored. If one dies the family of the deceased person can come in an take everything unless the surviving person can prove they own it. Straight people never see that kind of horror because the law protects them. Gay people don't have that protection. Gay marriage is about that. It is about being legally protected, it is about shared love, and it is about being equal citizens instead of always being 3rd class citizens at best. Quote your bible verses all you want but you are only showing your ignorance and stupidity. That is something we all see, and recognize in you. You don't matter.

Chazz Y.
Chazz Y.4 months ago

Face it, Gays are born gay, and they do matter

Chazz Y.
Chazz Y.4 months ago

The Bible calls gays an abomination. If being gay is an abomination, why are people born gay? Gay people deserve the right to marry so that they no longer face the discrimination They now cope with. This isn't about the Bible, or even about the Jewish God. Many are born gay and face ridicule, and hate. When a gay couple spends their entire lives together they are ignored. If one dies the family of the deceased person can come in an take everything unless the surviving person can prove they own it. Straight people never see that kind of horror because the law protects them. Gay people don't have that protection. Gay marriage is about that. It is about being legally protected, it is about shared love, and it is about being equal citizens instead of always being 3rd class citizens at best. Quote your bible verses all you want but you are only showing your ignorance and stupidity. That is something we all see, and recognize in you. You don't matter.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.4 months ago

The Bible calls gays an abomination. If being gay is an abomination, why are people born gay? Gay people deserve the right to marry so that they no longer face the discrimination They now cope with. This isn't about the Bible, or even about the Jewish God. Many are born gay and face ridicule, and hate. When a gay couple spends their entire lives together they are ignored. If one dies the family of the deceased person can come in an take everything unless the surviving person can prove they own it. Straight people never see that kind of horror because the law protects them. Gay people don't have that protection. Gay marriage is about that. It is about being legally protected, it is about shared love, and it is about being equal citizens instead of always being 3rd class citizens at best. Quote your bible verses all you want but you are only showing your ignorance and stupidity. That is something we all see, and recognize in you. You don't matter.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.4 months ago

The Bible calls gays an abomination. If being gay is an abomination, why are people born gay? Gay people deserve the right to marry so that they no longer face the discrimination They now cope with. This isn't about the Bible, or even about the Jewish God. Many are born gay and face ridicule, and hate. When a gay couple spends their entire lives together they are ignored. If one dies the family of the deceased person can come in an take everything unless the surviving person can prove they own it. Straight people never see that kind of horror because the law protects them. Gay people don't have that protection. Gay marriage is about that. It is about being legally protected, it is about shared love, and it is about being equal citizens instead of always being 3rd class citizens at best. Quote your bible verses all you want but you are only showing your ignorance and stupidity. That is something we all see, and recognize in you. You don't matter.