In a major victory for same-sex marriage rights, the Justice Department will soon grant married gay and lesbian couples the same rights in legal matters as other married couples.
The new policy, which will be announced by Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday evening in New York, marks the latest step by the Obama administration to extend rights to same-sex couples that are afforded to married, heterosexual couples.
"In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law," Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.
The Justice Department will issue a memo Monday to its employees instructing them to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition to the greatest extent possible under the law. Gay marriage is currently legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.