In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights, Attorney General Eric Holder is applying a landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department, announcing Saturday that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages.
This past weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would sign a memo calling for expanded recognition for same sex marriages:
“I pledge to you, tonight, that we will never stop working to ensure that equality under the law is protected by the law.”
The move is focused on federal benefits – including spousal rights regarding prison visits, bankruptcies, and refusal to testify against a spouse in court. Those are important rights to this Silver Spring couple:
Yet, conservative groups are concerned about the move, and the National Organization for Marriage states:
“The changes being proposed here to a process as universally relevant as the criminal justice system serve as a potent reminder of why it is simply a lie to say that redefining marriage doesn’t affect everyone in society.”
The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programs, and Holder says same-sex couples will qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.
“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,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign in New York. The advocacy group works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.
Just as in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the stakes in the current generation over same-sex marriage rights “could not be higher,” said Holder.