Department of Justice urged to respect legal marriages in 3 states

This week, Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign sent a joint letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Department of Justice to act now and ensure that the marriages of same-sex couples performed earlier this year in Arkansas, Indiana, and Wisconsin are respected by the federal government.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice announced that they would respect marriage licenses received after similar court rulings in Utah and Michigan.

The letter was cosigned by over 50 groups, all members of the Respect for Marriage Coalition.

This year, nearly 2,000 same-sex couples were able to marry in Arkansas, Indiana, and Wisconsin before landmark court rulings were put on hold, shutting out any further committed same-sex couples from being married.

The letter states:

We are truly grateful for the actions of your office in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor v. United States. By swiftly extending federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples in legally-conferred marriages, your office provided critical protection to these families. Recently, the Department helped to ensure that same-sex couples married in Michigan and Utah were also granted federal benefits and protections. Now, married couples in Arkansas, Indiana and Wisconsin need you to act.

Read the full letter here.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, explained the urgency behind DOJ action. He said:

Until the Supreme Court ends the current patchwork of discrimination and affirms the freedom to marry nationwide, lawfully married gay couples in states still discriminating will continue to need the kind of leadership we’ve seen from the Attorney General and the Obama Administration in assuring equal treatment by the federal government. Married couples should be treated as what they are – married – fully able to share in the federal protections and responsibilities afforded other married couples. The Respect for Marriage Coalition urges Attorney General Holder to apply that standard in these states as he has in others.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said:

There is no legal reason to question the validity of these marriages. Each was legally performed by a clerk representing the states, in accordance with each state’s statutes and constitution. Until the issue is resolved once and for all, we ask Attorney General Holder and the Obama Administration to once again seize the mantle of leadership and ensure that lawfully married couples receive the equal treatment that they deserve.

Read about the cases in Arkansas, Indiana, and Wisconsin.