In a Saturday night speech at the Human Rights Campaign gala in New York City, Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder announced a directive that will extend recognition to all same-gender marriages in legal dealings with the Federal government. Regardless of which state a person resides in, if they were legally married, the Federal government’s Department of Justice will treat them as a married couple, with all the rights and benefits of that marriage.
This does not legalize ‘gay marriage’ across the nation, but merely prevents the Federal government’s legal apparatus from refusing to recognize marriages in states where they are not sanctioned, but were performed legally elsewhere.
Holder will release a memo on Monday directing DOJ offices to recognize same-gender marriages ”to the greatest extent possible under the law.”
At the HRC event, Holder compared the marriage equality struggle to the civil rights struggles of the ’60′s, saying “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. As attorney general, I will not let this Department be simply a bystander during this important moment in history.” Holder also said, ”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.”
The HRC released this statement:
“This landmark announcement will change the lives of countless committed gay and lesbian couples for the better. While the immediate effect of these policy decisions is that all married gay couples will be treated equally under the law, the long-term effects are more profound. Today, our nation moves closer toward its ideals of equality and fairness for all. Attorney General Holder continues to show incredible leadership, and this latest action cements his place in history alongside Robert F. Kennedy, another Attorney General who crusaded for civil rights.”
The expected naysayers from the right were trotted out by many of the “mainstream media” to offer “balance”, and commentary against the DOJ action, but here at QueerLandia, we’re not going to give them the space to rant. If you want to find out what they said, try your favorite search engine.
It will be interesting to see if this spreads to other Federal agencies. For example, immigration is under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Will gay and lesbian citizens be able to marry someone of the same gender, and sponsor them for citizenship? Will NASA ever have (or announce, at least) that a gay or lesbian astronaut couple will go into space? The speculations are endless.
From now on, the DOJ will treat you as married, even if your state won’t. As we’ve said before, marriage equality is inevitable, and those who stand against it are on the wrong side of history.