U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the rights of same-sex couples are about to be expanded under federal law.
Holder made the announcement at the annual gala for the Human Rights Campaign, where thousands celebrated the gains made in expanding gay rights over the past year.
He says he'll issue a memo that will order all Justice Department employees to give same-sex married couples full and equal recognition to the greatest extent possible under the law.
"In every court house, 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, the same protections and the same rights as opposite sex marriages under federal law,” said Holder.
That means same-sex couples will no longer be compelled to testify against each other in court.
It will also allow them to file jointly for bankruptcy and entitle them to the same rights as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages.
In addition, same-sex couples will now qualify for Justice Department benefit programs, like the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits for surviving spouses of public safety officers injured or killed in the line of duty.