Attorney General Eric Holder made an appearance at the annual Human Rights Campaign dinner on Saturday night, noting that the victories in the gay rights movement this year were enough to fill “10 annual dinners,” pointing out just how much progress had been made in a relatively short time. “I have seen few things in my lifetime more exhilarating or more profoundly gratifying than this nation's resolute turn away from intolerance and toward acceptance, respect, and equality,” Holder said.
Holder spoke only hours after he announced that the U.S. government would recognize same-sex marriages performed in six more states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Holder also said that the Department of Justice “has determined it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin this past June,” when the legal status of those nuptials were unclear because of legal battles. Recognition by the federal government means the couples can qualify for numerous federal benefits.
“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” Holder said. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”
The announcement brings the total number of states where same-sex couples are recognized by the federal government to 32, plus the District of Columbia, notes the Department of Justice news release.