Justice Department grants equal protection to same-sex married couples

By Aubrey Meadows
Opinions Editor

February 8 marks the date that same-sex married couples will now receive equal protection under the law from the Justice Department. US Attorney General Eric Holder announced this new policy at the Human Rights Campaign’s Greater New York Gala at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Supreme Court ruled specific benefits and rights same-sex married couples now have in regards to the law. A partner has the right to deny giving a testimony that may convict their spouse even in states that have not recognized gay marriage. Federal inmates and their spouses will also have the same rights and privileges that heterosexual marriages have including visitation rights, escorted trips to attend a spouse’s funeral, correspondence with a spouse while in prison.

“This means that, 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,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

Same-sex married couples can apply for bankruptcy jointly. Domestic support obligations will include debts, such as alimony- a spouse’s court-ordered provision for a spouse after separation or divorce- owed to a former same-sex spouse. Certain debts to same-sex spouses or former spouses should be accepted from discharge.

The laws passed have “marked a major victory for the cause of equal protection under U.S. law, and a significant step forward for committed and loving couples throughout the country,” said Holder.

Groups like the National Organization of Marriage see this as a strategic move from the Obama administration as a way to undermine the states authority. “The American public needs to realize how egregious and how dangerous these usurpations are and how far-reaching the implications can be. The changes being proposed here. . . serve as a potent reminder of why it is simply a lie to say that redefining marriage doesn’t affect everyone in society,” said Brian Brown, president of the organization.

Many students see this as a step in the right direction for equal rights. “It shouldn’t have been a problem before, although it is because of society and how people view each other,” said North Springs senior Elseda Marshall. “I think if you want to be married to someone you can, it doesn’t matter what their sex is.”

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