Marriage equality coalition asks DOJ to recognize 3 state’s same-sex unions

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

WASHINGTON — The Respect for Marriage Coalition, a group of more than 50 groups supporting marriage equality, on Friday asked the U.S Department of Justice to ensure federal recognition of same-sex couples who were legally married in Arkansas, Indiana, and Wisconsin after those bans were declared unconstitutional.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

The coalition, led by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Freedom to Marry, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking the DOJ to recognize the marriages of those couples, consistent with the approach taken by the federal government in other states.

Nearly 2,000 couples married in the three states in the past five months before marriage equality rulings there were placed on hold pending appeal.

The letter, co-signed by more than 50 organizations a civil rights advocacy groups that make up the Respect for Marriage Coalition, states: “There is no legal reason to question the validity of these nearly 2,000 marriages. Each was legally performed by a clerk representing the states of Arkansas, Indiana and Wisconsin, in accordance with each state’s statutes and constitution and by judicial order. … We accordingly request that the Department of Justice promptly announce that same-sex couples legally married in Arkansas, Indiana and Wisconsin will be treated as married for purposes of federal law.”

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The action would enable the government to extend eligibility for federal benefits to the couples, allowing them to file joint federal tax returns, obtain Social Security benefits for spouses, and request legal immigration status for spouses, among other benefits.

Holder has previously announced federal recognition of same-sex marriages that occurred in Utah and Michigan following similar rulings in those states.

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