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US Justice Department to extend new federal benefits to all married gay couples

In a prepared speech to the Human Rights Campaign, US Attorney General Eric Holder will announce changes that apply to married LGBTI couples, even those residing in states where same-sex marriage is illegal
US Attorney General Eric Holder

Early next week, the US Justice Department will announce plans to extend more federal protections to same-sex married couples, even those living in states where gay marriage is not recognized.

In a speech that will be given tonight (8 February) at a Human Rights Campaign gala in New York City, Attorney General Eric Holder will report government lawyers will, in federal courts, treat same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples the same.

This means a gay spouse can decline to testify against a husband or wife. This rule applies in federal and civil cases.

According to NBC News, the attorney general will  add the same-sex spouses of public duty officers, who  die in the line of duty, qualify for federal death payments.

'The federal government should stand by that hero’s spouse — no matter whether that spouse is straight or gay,' Holder said.

Federal inmates in same-sex marriages will have visitation privileges. Lastly, in federal bankruptcy cases same-sex married couples can expect to be treated like other married couples.

Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, noted the policy changes will help the country get 'closer to its ideals of equality and fairness for all.'

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