Attorney General Eric Holder to Announce Range of New DOJ Policies for Gay Married Couples

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will announce a range of new Justice Department policies at tonight's Human Rights Campaign gala in New York City tonight, towards its effort to do all it can to ensure same-sex married couples are recognized equally under the law, the Washington Blade reports.

HolderAmong the policy changes, via the Blade:

• The Justice Department will recognize that same-sex spouses of individuals involved in civil and criminal cases have the same legal rights as straight married couples, including the right to decline to give testimony that might incriminate a spouse.

This new rule applies in non-marriage equality states. The government won't object to couples in same-sex marriages invoking this right if they marry in another state, but their current jurisdiction doesn't recognize their union.

• In bankruptcy cases, the U.S. Trustee Program will take the position that same-sex married couples should be treated in the same manner as opposite-sex married couples. Consequently, same-sex married couples will be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly; certain debts to same-sex spouses or former spouses will be excepted from discharge; and domestic support obligations should include debts, including alimony, owed to a former same-sex spouse.

• Federal inmates in same-sex marriages will be entitled to the same rights and privileges as inmates in opposite-sex marriages. These rights include spousal visitation; inmate furloughs to be present during a crisis involving a spouse; escorted trips to attend a spouse’s funeral; correspondence with a spouse; and compassionate release or reduction in sentence if an inmate’s spouse is incapacitated.

• The Justice Department will recognize same-sex couples for the purposes of a number of benefits programs it administers, such as the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Also among these programs is the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program, which provides death benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers, such as law enforcement officers and firefighters, who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries while on duty.

The NYT adds:

Speaking before Sweden’s Parliament a few days ago, Mr. Holder called fighting for gay and lesbian rights one of “the defining civil rights challenges of our time.”

The remarks on Saturday by Mr. Holder, the first black attorney general, cast the gay-rights movement as a continuation of the civil rights efforts of the 1960s.

“As all-important as the fight against racial discrimination was then, and remains today, know this: My commitment to confronting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity runs just as deep,” his speech said.

The government estimates that more than 1,100 federal regulations, rights and laws touch on, or are affected by, marital status. With a memo on Monday, Mr. Holder plans to make several of those provisions apply equally to gay and straight couples.


  1. Michael Bedwell says

    Eight months after the Supremes overturned DOMA? What took them so long when they COULD have prepared such policies IN ADVANCE to take effect the moment of the decision which they took months and months of bows (before and after) for having argued for? And from the linked “Blade” article, could HRC’s latest puppy dog Griffin BE any more shameless in his perpetual groveling to the Administration which DEFENDED DOMA for three years, which told the Supremes they did not WANT them to rule all state bans unconstitutional, and continues to make ridiculous excuses for not keeping Mr. Obama’s years-old promises to order federal contractors not to discriminate against LGBTs and establish nondiscrimination policies for LGB service members post DADT repeal whose anniversary is approaching three years? Cue Bots making ridiculous excuses proving they care more about defending a straight politician than their own people in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 …..

  2. andrew says

    Just one more example of what a good friend the Obama Administration is to the LGBT Community.

  3. I'm layla miller i know stuff says

    The Two Mothers and the Wisdom of Solomon

    The story is recounted in 1Kings 3:16-28. Two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son came to Solomon for a judgement.

    One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other.

    King Solomon said, “Bring me a sword!” So they brought a sword before the King. The King said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one and half to the other”

    The woman (#2) turned to the King, because her compassion was aroused for her son, and said: “Please my Lord, give her the living child and do not kill it!”

    But the other woman (#1) said: “Neither mine nor yours shall he be. Cut!”

    The King spoke up and said: “Give her (#2)
    the living child, and do not kill it, for she is his mother!”

    All of Israel heard the judgment that the King had judged. They had great awe for the King, for they saw that the Wisdom of God was within him to do justice. [I Melachim 3:16 – 27].

    The true mother was rightfully awarded custody of her son.

  4. I'm layla miller i know stuff says

    Sophia: The Wise Bride of Solomon, Goddess of Wisdom

    Solomon Prays for Wisdom

    Wisdom 9:9 Wisdom is with you and knows your actions; she was present when you made the world. She knows what pleases you , what is right and in accordance with your commands.

    Wisdom 9:10 Send her from the holy heavens, down from your glorious throne, so that she may work at my side, and I may learn what pleases you.

    Wisdom 9:11 She knows and understands everything, and will guide me intelligently in what I do. Her glory will protect me.

    Wisdom 9:12 Then I will judge your people fairly, and be worthy of my father’s throne. My actions will be acceptable.

  5. says

    Excellent progress. Without President Obama in office, and the Supreme Court justices he has chosen, and the work he has done through the DOJ led by Eric Holder, it is unlikely Section 3 of DOMA would be gone. Without Section 3 of DOMA gone, none of this would be possible. But it is possible, and Eric Holder is following through. The administration is on our side, however much some wish to pretend otherwise.

  6. Red says

    Thank you President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for your continuous efforts to bring fairness and justice to the LGBT community.

  7. BRAINS says

    Thank you President Barack Obama. If that idiot Romney had slipped in, thanks to people like ungrateful “Michael Bedwell”; we would be experiencing the horrors of a constitutional amendment being prepared banning our marriages.

    The BEDWELL’s of this world are ungrateful, narrow-minded thoughtless bigots!

    Or is BEDWELL that closet case RICK?

  8. RexT says

    Since day one, Obama and everyone who is a part of his Administration, have been working with very specific diligence on the details in policy across the federal government operating system. Without the depth of work these people, including Eric Holder and his guidance, tomorrow would be quite precarious. With DADT, the scope of work necessary in order to ensure the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed, huge. DOMA more so, and if not done correctly, and with very careful work and consideration – much of what is now done, might never have been done. There are many who would love nothing more than to turn back progress, their ability to take steps large or small, against equality, almost impossible. The details – the details the power is in the details and Thank You Eric Holder, along with each and every leader in the Administration for all of their focus on the details.

  9. Simon says

    “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,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement. The kind of law he means is of course in that story book.

  10. Don says

    This is all very good news and it is greatly appreciated by the LGBT community. There is one more item of unfinished business from the Federal Government. It’s the matter of social security for married couples not living in equality states. This is a huge item of concern! Here’s hoping we’ll see some movement on social security in the very near future. This single item is forcing me and my spouse to move from Georgia simply because there is the potential of my husband being unable to collect on my SS should I die in this state. It could be a lot of money involved. We can’t risk being caught in a non equality state.

  11. BobN says

    I imagine the on/off right to not testify against your spouse is going to lead to some interesting legal cases.