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Holder Memo: DOJ Recognizes Gay Marriages 'As Broadly As Possible'

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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08:  Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder announces that same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages will be treated by the Obama administration equally to the extent permissible by law, regardless of the state of residence, at the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 Greater New York gala at The Waldorf=Astoria on February 8, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder announces that same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages will be treated by the Obama administration equally to the extent permissible by law, regardless of the state of residence, at the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 Greater New York gala at The Waldorf=Astoria on February 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department's new policy is "to recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible," Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a memo on Monday.

In the memo, which Holder previewed in a speech on Saturday, the attorney general stipulates that the policy applies only to couples in same-sex marriages, not domestic partnerships or civil unions.

The memo recognizes that couples in same-sex marriages have the right to decline to give testimony in a civil or criminal case that might violate their marital privilege, that same-sex couples can file for bankruptcy jointly, and that federal inmates in same-sex marriages can be visited by their spouses and receive all other benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples.

Additionally, as spelled out in the memo, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has "made clear that it will treat same-sex surviving spouses in the same manner as opposite-sex surviving spouses for the purposes of carrying on a deceased spouse's licensed firearms or explosives business."

"The Department will recognize all marriages, including same-sex marriages, valid in the jurisdiction where the marriage was celebrated to the extent consistent with law. It is the Department's policy to recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible, to ensure equal treatment for all members of society regardless of sexual orientation," Holder writes.

More on the decision here.

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