DOJ Takes Another Step Toward Equality

Eric Holder spoke to the Human Rights Campaign last week and announced that the Department of Justice was instructing all of its offices around the nation to treat all legally-performed same-sex marriages the same as an opposite-sex marriage regardless of where the couple actually lives. Howard Friedman explains what that will mean:

This means that same-sex spouses will be able to refuse to testify against their spouses in federal court proceedings, even in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriages will be treated the same as heterosexual marriages in bankruptcy proceedings, allowing same-sex couples to file jointly for bankruptcy and making alimony owed to a former same-sex spouse generally non-dischargeable. Federal inmates in same-sex marriages will have the same spousal visitation, furlough, correspondence and compassionate release rights as opposite-sex spouses. Same -sex spouses will be recognized in various benefit programs administered by the Department of Justice– the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program; the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund; and the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program.

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Christian right: Tyranny! Socialism! The Kenyan Muslim atheist has done it again!

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  • sundoga

    Excellent. And precisely what is required of them by the Constitution.

  • Chiroptera

    I would think that this would be a no-brainer. I would think that just in terms of efficiency the government should worry about whether the marriage was legally contracted, not the current location of the partners. If there is reason to doubt the validity of the marriage, it should just suffice to have the partners supply the marriage certificate.

    I would think that all departments of the executive branch (and the regulatory agencies as well) would do this, but maybe the law denies some agencies the discretion to adopt this as policy.

  • cptdoom

    @Chiroptera #2 –

    I would think that just in terms of efficiency the government should worry about whether the marriage was legally contracted, not the current location of the partners.

    This is especially important in the issue of federal inmates, as that is the one case noted above in which the government decides where you will be located during your incarceration. That means the feds, absent this policy, could be in the position of sending a legally married person to jail in a non-equality state, thus depriving that inmate of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts in the same facility. As we saw from Windsor, this is not constitutionally allowed, so the feds would face lawsuits and the headaches of reshuffling prisoners.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Christian right: Tyranny! Socialism! The Kenyan Muslim atheist has done it again!

    When I heard this news the other day I wanted to see the reaction from secular conservatives and therefore went to the comments section of the WSJ. “Thug” (read: n*gg*r) was a frequently used reference. Link: http://goo.gl/Qd84dR.

  • Wylann

    Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Christian right: Tyranny! Socialism! The Kenyan Muslim atheist has done it again!

    Oh, this is the best part! Sweet, sweet schadenfreude, how I love thee!