Attorney General Holder Instructs the Dept of Justice to Give Same-Sex Married Couples Full and Equal Recognition.
I am pleased with Attorney General Eric Holder´s decision to direct Justice Department employees to give same-sex married couples “full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent under the law.” There is no doubt that the decision will have far-ranging consequences for how same-sex married couples are treated in federal courtrooms and proceedings.
The directive states that same-sex married couples can decline to give testimony in U.S. cases that may incriminate a spouse; this is known in the law as marital privilege. The new directive states that the Justice Department won’t object to that even if the state where the couple lives doesn’t formally recognize the marriage. This is without a doubt a step in the right direction for the country.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the decision a “landmark” that would “change the lives of countless committed gay and lesbian couples for the better.”While the immediate effect of these policy decisions is that all married gay couples will be treated equally under the law, the long-term effects are more profound. Today, our nation moves closer toward its ideals of equality and fairness for all,” Griffin says.
In the future:
- Same-sex married couples would be able to file jointly for bankruptcy “and that domestic support obligations should include debts, such as alimony, owed to a former same-sex spouse.”
- In federal prisons, same-sex married couples in which one of them is an inmate will have visitation privileges as well as escorted trips to attend a spouse’s funeral and compassionate release policies if their spouse suffers severe illness.
Attorney General Holder is scheduled to make the new policy public Saturday evening at a gala event for the Human Rights Campaign in New York.
According to early releases of his prepared stated. Mr. Holder is scheduled to say: “Just like during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation’s struggle for LGBT equality couldn’t be higher. As attorney general, I will not let this department be simply a bystander during this important moment in history.”
The Department of Homeland Security and the IRS have already made similar moves after the U.S. Supreme Court last year invalidated a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA.) DOMA, for federal law purposes had defined the institution of marriage as limited to heterosexual couples.