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

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.

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117 comments

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10:21AM PDT on Apr 22, 2014

Thank you

7:49PM PST on Feb 19, 2014

Here is a headline for you Gerald……..marriage does NOT CREATE BABYS!!!! IMPRGNATING EGGS DOES. You dodnt have have to have sex for that anymore. If Mother nature doesnt give a shit if Gay People exist then YOU shouldnt. its none of your business. It isnt hurting mankind. it isnt hurting the gene pool…..it isnt creating a baby shortage.

So find something else to be concerned about. Not something YOU have no control over. They are pasrt of the system God created, if you beleive in God. So someohow you know more about the subject than God??

6:40AM PST on Feb 19, 2014

So tired of seeing so many people quoting the bible when they don't live by it. The only time they bother with it is when they want to prove that whatever they hate is wrong and everyone should live by that. Such bull-crap. My nephew is gay, lives/works in NYC and has a wonderful partner. It is not my business to interfere and I would not want to. I believe in letting people live their lives as they want to, not as you say they have to. They make a wonderful couple, better than a couple of families I know. It is not anyone's business but their own. Grow up.

11:05AM PST on Feb 18, 2014

Another reply to Gerald's "It will be a frosty day in hell when same sex unions produce off-spring"

It must snowing in your hell Gerald. Same sex couples produce off-spring all the time using the same reproductive technologies used by opposite sex couples who struggle with fertility.

5:13PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Suba G.: "Gerald,
In response to: 'It will be a frosty day in hell when same sex unions produce off-spring.' Again who cares?" BOOM!

4:58PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Gerald,
In response to: "It will be a frosty day in hell when same sex unions produce off-spring."

Again who cares? Marriage and procreation two different actions that can occur INDEPENDENT of each other.

Have you noticed that marriage occurs without procreation, and procreation occurs without marriage? One does not need the other.

4:24PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Yabbadabbadoo - eeha - hooray (etc)
Each step counts, especially when you're counting on it - smile.

3:29PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Gerald L.

Just so you understand, being gay is natural just like rain and sunshine. Just like sunshine and rain can help the grass grow, they also have other purposes. Marriage is not only for the purpose of procreation. If it were, there are many legally recognized marriages already that should not be allowed. Just because that is what marriage might mean to some does not mean that is the only thing it is to everyone.

3:24PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Gerald L.
"I am agreement with "civil unions" officiated by a Justice of the Peace and property rights, health benefit plan sharing, pension's etc. But have objection to watering down of gospel doctrine by infiltration of people into churches with the agenda to do so. This has caused major church splits."

So it sounds to me like you are for gay marriage as long as it isn't in your church, would that be accurate? I ask because if that is the case it sounds like we want nearly the same thing. I have no desire to force a church to allow marriage within it's walls if it goes against that churches beliefs. I only want the people that worship in that church to acknowledge that they do not have the right to impose their beliefs on people outside of those walls.

10:57AM PST on Feb 17, 2014

sorry for the typos.

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