Law Removes Same-Sex vs. Opposite-Sex Marriage Distinction

Good news for same-sex couples!

The Federal government will soon afford married same-sex couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to the following legal procedures and protection: bankruptcy, testifying in court, and visiting family in prison.

According to excerpts from a speech Attorney General Eric Holder gave, policies will be issued eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the Federal criminal justice system. The Department of Justice will make every effort to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages.

The changes began last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse Federal benefits to married same-sex couples. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer, the Obama administration has rewritten Federal rules to allow same-sex couples to file taxes together and receive Medicare and other benefits reserved for married couples.

The Federal government estimates that more than 1,100 regulations, rights, and laws touch on, or are affected by, marital status.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Same-sex spouses of individuals involved in civil and criminal cases should have the same legal rights as all other married couples, including the right to decline to give testimony that might violate the marital privilege.
  • The U. S. Trustee Program will take the position that same-sex married couples should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and that domestic support obligations should include debts such as spousal support owed to a former same-sex spouse.
  • Federal prisoners in same-sex marriages will be entitled to visitation by a spouse, inmate furloughs during a crisis involving a spouse, escorted trips to attend a spouse’s funeral, correspondence with a spouse and compassionate release or reduction in sentence based on an inmate’s spouse being incapacitated.

If you are unsure about this latest development relative to same-sex marriage, and you have questions, contact the Family Law offices of Holstrom, Block & Parke with offices located in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties for your convenience.

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