WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Saturday that he planned to expand federal benefits to same-sex ‘couples,’ following last year’s Supreme Court ruling regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“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 told the Human Rights Campaign in a speech this past weekend.
He stated that homosexuals should not be compelled to testify against each other in civil and criminal court, that they should be able to file jointly for bankruptcy, and should have the same visitation rights as heterosexuals in the federal prison system. Holder also stated that he would make death benefits available for “spouses” of law enforcement officers that were killed in the line of duty and would also allow permit them to be partakers of the September 11th victims compensation fund.
“The Justice Department’s role in confronting discrimination must be as aggressive today as it was in Robert Kennedy’s time,” he asserted.
Holder advised that his conclusion was reached in light of June’s Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, which struck down key parts of DOMA.
“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages. It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy on behalf of the court. “It also forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect.”
The IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services had made similar adjustments in September in light of the ruling.
However, some are expressing their disapproval of Holder’s decision, stating that it tramples upon states’ rights.
“The news that the Justice Department will extend sweeping recognition to ‘marriages’ of same-sex couples, even in states that do not recognize such unions, is yet another illustration of the lawlessness of this administration,” wrote Tony Perkins of Family Research Council.
“While the Supreme Courts ruling in the Windsor case last summer required the federal government to recognize such unions in states which also recognize them, the Court was conspicuously silent on the status of such couples when they reside in a state which considers them unmarried,” he stated. “The Obama administrations haste to nevertheless recognize such unions in every state actually runs counter to the Windsor decisions emphasis on the federal governments obligation to defer to state definitions of marriage.”
“Attorney General Holder’s announcement—like his recognition of same-sex ‘marriages’ in Utah despite the Supreme Court granting a stay of the District Court decision overturning that state’s definition of marriage—illustrates the importance of Congressional action to pass the State Marriage Defense Act (H.R. 3829), introduced by Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas),” Perkins said. “It would require the federal government to defer to state definitions of marriage—as required by Windsor—by not treating persons as ‘married’ when they are unmarried according to the law of their state of legal residence.”