Holder expands federal recognition of same-sex marriage to 5 states

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WASHINGTON — The federal government is expanding it recognition of same-sex marriages to five states where a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed such marriages to become legal, with recognition to more states likely soon.

The Justice Department is still reviewing the status of same-sex marriages in other states, including Arizona, where a judge Friday ruled that a same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday in a video message that federal legal recognition of same-sex marriages extends to Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. These states had bans on same-sex marriages that effectively were struck down as a result of high court’s decision to not review lower court rulings that had declared such ban unconstitutional.

West Virginia and Idaho also are affected by the Supreme Court ruling and are likely to get federal same-sex marriage recognition soon.

“We will not delay in fulfilling our responsibility to afford every eligible couple, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, the full rights and responsibilities to which they are entitled. With their long-awaited unions, we are slowly drawing closer to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans nationwide,” Attorney General Holder said in the video.

The federal government is still studying how to deal with Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits as a result of changes in same-sex marriage laws; it is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

In Arizona, a federal judge ruled that Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and has refused to stay his ruling. Unless the state appeals the decision, gay and lesbian couples soon will be able obtain marriage licenses.

Judge John Sedwick concluded that provisions of the voter-approved measure were “unconstitutional because they deny same-sex couples the equal protection of the law.”

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