Same-Sex Couples to Get Fed Marriage Benefits

     (CN) – Federal marriage benefits have been extended to same-sex couples on all 50 states, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Thursday.
     The change in federal policy follows the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which said that every couple has the same right to get married.
     In announcing the change in policy, Lynch said officials with the Justice Department, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs had previously been constrained in how they provided benefits to same-sex couples.
     In the wake of Obergefell, she said, the agencies worked quickly to expand marriage benefits to those who had previously not had access to them.
     ” I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans, which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide,” the attorney general said in a written statement.
     She went on to say that the same officials are now working to provide a guidance on how the changes in policy will be implemented.
     The policy change comes roughly a year after Lynch’s predecessor, Eric Holder Jr., in response to an earlier Supreme Court decision, announced that if a couple was married in a state that allowed same-sex marriage, but later moved to a state where it was not, they would still obtain those federal benefits.
     The decision was United States v. Windsor, in which the high court held that restricting the federal government’s interpretation of “marriage” and “spouse” to apply to only heterosexual unions — a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act — is unconstitutional.
     “With the Supreme Court’s new ruling that the Constitution requires marriage equality, we have now taken the further step of ensuring that all federal benefits will be available equally to married couples in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Territories,” Lynch said.

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