Eric Holder, who is the Attorney General of the United States, announced on Saturday that the federal government plans on giving more rights to same sex couples such as spouses would not be forced to testify against one another, have the eligibility for filing for bankruptcy together and have the same privileges and rights that inmates in federal prisons do who are in opposite sex marriages. The Justice Department has several benefits programs, and Holder stated that same sex couples would be able to qualify for them.
In every courthouse across the United States, it will be required that individuals in same sex marriages are given the very same freedoms, securities and protections as any type of marriages under federal law, explained Holder in a prepared statement. It was given to the Human Rights Campaign in New York City. The support group works for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equal rights.
On Monday, the Justice Department will release a strategy to all employees training them to give lawful same sex marriages complete and identical recognition, to the best extent possible under the laws of the land. Holder’s speech is the latest submission in favor of a series of actions which followed the United States Supreme Court’s ruling last year that struck down a major portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, which had striped the federal government from identifying legally valid same sex marriages.
After the decision passed in June of 2013, the IRS stated that all legally married gay couples would be able to file joint federal tax returns, even if they lived inside states that failed to recognize same sex marriages. The Defense Department declared that it would give military spousal assistance to same sex couples.
Holder told the group that the Justice Department would identify that same sex spouses of individuals who are involved in criminal and civil cases should have the same rights as every married couples, including the right to not give testament which could violate marital license. By this policy, even those states that do not recognize same sex marriage, the federal government would ignore what the state view is as a reason to object to an individual in a same sex marriage from summoning such a right.
The United States Trustee Program would take the position that same sex married couples would be able to file for bankruptcy together and that domestic obligations would include debts like alimony which was due to a former same sex spouse.
Any federal prisoners who are in same sex marriages would be allowed to have visits by a spouse. There could also be inmate leave of absences during a crisis which involved a spouse, chaperoned trips to go to the funeral of a spouse and sympathetic release or sentence reduction based around an inmate’s spouse becoming injured.
Due to the new procedures announced on Saturday, the nation has moved nearer to its standards of fairness and equality for everyone, stated Chad Griffin, who works with the Human Rights Campaign.
Holder explained that the federal government should stand by that hero’s significant other, no matter whether the spouse is either straight or gay. He added that civil rights is of major importance for the Justice Department and that just as important as freedom against racial discrimination has been happening, the pledge to stop discrimination which is based on sexual orientation goes just as deep. It has to be fought as well.
With what Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Saturday about the privileges and rights he wants for same sex couples, that fight may just be slowly being won, the discrimination against someone because of sexual orientation finally going out the door for good.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Miami Herald