Same-Sex Spouses Get New Federal Rights, Holder Says

There are those in our Congress who would deny LGBT Americans the equal rights and treatment the rest of the country receives. We all know this. We know there are those on the conservative side of things who do not believe gay or trans people should even be allowed to be in relationships, let alone be treated fairly by the same government who taxes them and is Constitutionally required to treat them with equality. Because of this, because Congress is unwilling to guarantee those rights and freedoms to LGBT Americans, the Justice Department has been on a quest, reviewing the laws and regulations of the country to see what they have the legal authority to change to make life better for LGBT Americans without congressional approval. Attorney General Holder recently announced new policies regarding this.

Same-Sex Spouses Get New Federal Rights, Holder Says

This is important. Just to pick one of the many things mentioned here to explain why I think this is a big deal, up to this point there have been cases around the country where prosecutors have tried to force same-sex spouses to testify against their spouse. This is not evenly applied, and in some places (particularly in locations that already recognize same-sex marriage) the prosecutors do not seek to force this, but it has so far been decided on a case by case basis. This is not how it should be. There are probably people out there who think even straight spouses should be forced to testify against their husband or wife, but there are good reasons why they should not have to. When a person is married their spouse is their most trusted confidant. They may say things to their spouse they wouldn’t even tell their lawyer. Some of it may be rather damaging to a case, if it came out. If a person would always have to censor their words around their spouse, for fear that the spouse could be called to testify, it seems to me that you violate the trust of that marital union. And if someone asked their spouse “did you do it” and the accused refused to answer, it seems possible even that could be testified to in court as evidence of guilt, because surely an innocent person would tell their spouse that they did not do it. Because of this, and probably a lot of other reasons, spouses are not forced to testify against each other. Except to this point that was not applied equally to same-sex couple as to straight couples. Attorney General Holder thinks it should be, and to the extent the Justice Department can make it so, it will be now.

There was a lot more in the announcement, and there are obvious limitations to what the Justice Department can accomplish on its own, but this is a positive step toward equality. So for that, I think we should all thank them for doing what they can, and hopefully they will continue to find ways to move us ever forward toward a more perfect nation.