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Federal government adds more rights to same-sex marriage couples

The path to equality has been a long, slow battle for some groups in this country. However, recent court rulings are increasingly providing more and more rights to same-sex couples, even for those couples who live in states such as Massachusetts that have allowed same-sex marriage for years. In a recent speech, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder outlined several federal benefits that will be applied to couples who have obtained a legal same-sex marriage.

The application of the benefits is a result of the Supreme Court's recent decision to strike down the federal law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. As a result, Holder now claims that many rights given to heterosexual spouses will now apply to same-sex couples. Specifically, federal prisoners in a legal same-sex marriage will have the same rights as opposite-sex couples. Additionally, these couples can jointly file for bankruptcy and cannot be forced to testify against their spouse.

The applications of these rights are just the latest in changes resulting from the Supreme Court ruling. Since the ruling, same-sex spouses have been allowed to benefit from a compensation fund for Sept. 11 victims. They are also allowed to receive benefits if their spouse is a public safety officer and loses his or her life while on duty.

In his speech, Holder compared the civil rights movement of today that seeks to legally recognize a same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Much progress has been made over the last decade, but there are still many states that currently ban same-sex marriage. However, same-sex couples in Massachusetts can now celebrate the recent strides and the application of federal rights in all legally recognized marriages.

Source: The Huffington Post, Justice Department To Give Same-Sex Couples More Federal Privileges, Pete Yost, Feb. 8, 2014

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