Staff WriterIn a big step towards marital equality for all, the Department of Justice is to act to give same-sex marriages “full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law”, according to the Huffington Post. In a speech on Saturday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the plans, which include “the right to decline to give testimony in a civil or criminal case that might violate their marital privilege”, the right to jointly file for bankruptcy, and also grants visitation rights to same-sex spouses of federal inmates. The plans, which Holder announced would be released Monday, aim to eliminate the difference between the rights of an opposite-sex married couple and those of a same-sex married couple. However, whilst federal law will be affected by the plans, they will not have any effect upon state laws. According to Holder, the move will also see same-sex couples awarded equal access to benefit programs such as the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. These plans follow a 2013 Supreme Court decision that said it was “unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to same-sex couples.” (Time) Holder himself has committed himself to gaining equality for LGBT people in the United States, comparing this fight to that of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. According to Time, Holder was expected to say the following at his speech in New York on Saturday: “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 runs just as deep. Just like during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation’s struggle for LGBT equality could not be higher.” There are currently 17 states in the US, as well as the District of Columbia, that currently recognise same-sex marriage. With these plans in place, and Eric Holder’s commitment to the equality of all married couples, regardless of sexual orientation, hopefully many more states will follow.
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