Same-sex marrieds to receive increased rights under new U.S. policy

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HRC - Human Rights Campaign flags
Advocates and activists at a marriage equality rally pass in front of the U.S. Supreme Court waving HRC – Human Rights Campaign flags as they march through the streets in Washington, D.C. during a landmark year for LGBT rights in 2013. Image: HRC

(WNN) Washington, D.C., UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: Bolstering legal rights for same-sex couples offering lesbian and gay citizens in the U.S. a ‘step-up’ under equality in the courtroom, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will be implementing equality measures for same-sex couples to match current legal rights for hetero-couples in all U.S. judicial cases.

“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,” said the U.S. Attorney General on Saturday night during a speech given at the Human Rights Campaign‘s annual gala in New York City.

Stating that LGBT rights are the “defining civil rights challenge of our time” the Attorney General spoke on what human rights advocates say are ‘vital issues’ that face all LGBT citizens throughout the U.S.

Sworn into Office on February 3, 2009 as the 83rd U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder is the first African American in the United States to reach the position. Sworn in by U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, after being picked for the Office by President Barrack Obama December 2008. Holder’s previous high level federal post was under President Clinton when he was named Deputy Attorney General in 2007.

“This is no time to rest on our laurels,” continued Holder. “This is no time to back down, to give up, or to give in to the unjust and unequal status quo. Neither tradition nor fear of change can absolve us of the obligation we share to combat discrimination in all its forms. And, despite everything that’s been achieved, each of us as much more work to do,” he added.

Identifying that current U.S. Federal policies are now expanding for human rights, not contracting human rights under individual liberty, Attorney General Holder outlined the importance that all people are “entitled to opportunity and equal justice under the law.”

According to the new policies outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice the expanded rights will be going into effect for all married same-sex couples starting on Monday February 10. This includes equality for married same-sex couples as married hetero-couples under actions while testifying in court, visiting same-sex spouses in prison, making charges against a same-sex spouse under domestic abuse or in filing legal papers for bankruptcy.

“…same-sex married couples should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly, that certain debts to same-sex spouses or former spouses should be excepted from discharge, and that domestic support obligations should include debts, such as alimony, owed to a former same-sex spouse,” outlined Holder.

The goal for the Justice Department is to insure that all married same-sex couples are given the exact same federal rights as married heterosexual couples throughout the U.S., outlined the Attorney General.

Founded in 1980, The Human Rights Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, with more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide.


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