U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Saturday that same-sex couples married in six additional states will receive "the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law."
The United States government announced Saturday it will recognize same-sex marriages in six additional states, reports USA Today.
The states are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The decision means an array of federal benefits, such as the ability to file a joint tax return, Social Security benefits for widowers, and benefits for the spouses of veterans, will be available to gay couples in those states.
On October 6, 2014, the first day of its new term, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals in cases that made gay marriage legal in five states–Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana–prompting the Justice Department decision.
For the justices, there is “no need for us to rush” unless a split emerges in the regional federal appeals courts and one of them decides to uphold a state ban on gay marriage, said Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.
At least four of the nine Supreme Court justices must vote to hear a case for the Court to accept it.
“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving full equality for all Americans,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement Saturday. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex marriage couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”
The Attorney General made a similar announcement last week regarding seven other states: Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Same-sex marriages in 32 states and the District of Columbia are now recognized by the federal government as a result of these recent decisions.
Gay marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin in June will receive the same recognition, said Holder on Saturday. Despite federal district court rulings that the Indiana and Wisconsin bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, the status of those unions was unclear. The statement by Holder makes it clear that the federal government considers those marriages to be valid.