Federal Government Treating Same-Sex Marriage Same As Opposite-Sex Marriage In More Areas

The United States has clearly, even if slowly, been moving towards marriage equality–at least in the blue states and in the eyes of the federal government. The Department of Justice has issued new policies to provide equal legal treatment to people in same-sex marriage as heterosexual couples:

The federal government will soon treat married same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was preparing to issue policies aimed at eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the federal criminal justice system, according to excerpts from a speech prepared for a Saturday event organized by a prominent gay-rights group.

“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,” Mr. Holder’s prepared remarks said, according to the excerpts circulated by the Justice Department.

The changes were set in motion last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples, a ruling that Mr. Holder supported.

Gay-rights advocates welcomed the changes but had hoped Mr. Holder would use his address before the Human Rights Campaign to announce that the president would sign an order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

“That would be big,” said Gary Buseck, legal director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

Since the Supreme Court ruling in June, the Obama administration has rewritten federal rules to allow same-sex couples to file taxes together and receive Medicare and other benefits reserved for married couples. Mr. Holder has been the public face of those efforts and has made championing gay rights one of the central messages of his tenure…

It seems like such equal treatment under Federal law should not be an issue. If we see members of one party disagree, we will see once again which party is interested in imposing antiquated religious views upon others. (Hint: the party which claims to be the party of small government.) Actually I’m not certain there will be all that much protest. While the Republicans have taken advantage of homophobia among the far right in past elections, they seem to realize they are now losing on this one. They are facing so many battles on the culture wars in which they are on the losing side, they just might give up on this one.

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