WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2014 ( – Same-sex “marriage” advocates are one step closer to full federal recognition of their relationships after Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would provide benefits and services regardless of state laws about marriage.

On Saturday, Holder said that the federal government would “strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages.” A Human Rights Campaign blog post said this “will mean that the federal government will treat married lesbian and gay couples the same as heterosexual couples when they do things like file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.”


The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed by President Clinton two decades ago, was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) last year. The majority ruled in favor of state independence on the matter, overturning parts of DOMA but retaining federalism on marriage.

According to The Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson, Holder's new policy decision violates the Supreme Court's intent. “The Supreme Court ruled against portions of DOMA because, the Court claimed, the federal law 'put a thumb on the scales and influence[d] a state’s decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws.' It decried that DOMA created 'two contradictory marriage regimes within the same state,'” Anderson wrote on The Heritage Foundation’s blog.

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“It is Holder’s new policy that threatens to create two contradictory regimes by redefining marriage for federal purposes even in states that retain laws that reflect the truth about marriage as the union of a man and woman.”

National Organization for Marriage (NOM) President Brian Brown was similarly critical, saying that “to undermine the authority and sovereignty of the states to make their own determinations regulating the institution of marriage” is “just the latest in a series of moves by the Obama administration, and in particular the Department of Justice … [to] make their own determinations regulating the institution of marriage.”

Ethics & Public Policy Center President Ed Whelan had even harsher words, telling that “although Justice Kennedy complained that DOMA created two contradictory marriage regimes in the same state, the predictable result of his ruling was that the Obama administration would impose a contradictory federal regime on those states that adhere to the perennial understanding of marriage.”

Whelan wrote at the time of the SCOTUS decision that “the Court isn’t requiring the federal government to defer to state definitions of marriage generally. It is requiring the federal government to defer only to state definitions that allow same-sex marriage. For those states that don’t allow same-sex marriage, the federal government will be free to create a contradictory federal regime.”

CNN reports that Holder's decision means “the Justice Department will recognize that same-sex spouses of individuals involved in civil and criminal cases should have the same legal rights as all other married couples.” The administration will also allow “married” homosexual couples “”to file for bankruptcy as a couple,” according to CNN. Federal prisoners will also “have full visitation, compassionate release and other benefits.”

Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel and Policy Director Carrie Severino said that the “announcement is utterly unsurprising because this administration is accustomed to using cherry-picked citations to authority as a fig leaf for pursuing its ideological goals.”

In an e-mail to, Severino said, “Holder's memo turns the Windsor decision on its head. The Supreme Court emphasized the importance of state marriage law, but this administration is determined to recognize same-sex marriage 'as broadly as possible,' including in states that have constitutionally defined marriage as between a man and a woman.”


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