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Another positive change for same-sex couples

10-19-07 Dr. LaurBerman studio......Rich Hein/Sun-Times

10-19-07 Dr. Laura Berman in studio......Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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Updated: April 14, 2014 4:37PM

Attorney General Eric Holder made headlines across the country when he applied the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling to the Justice Department.

Same-sex spouses now are afforded equal rights and protections under the law as it relates to every program under the Justice Department umbrella. This means that same-sex spouses are protected from testifying against one another in court and that they are permitted the same visitation rights in federal prisons as heterosexual couples. Surviving partners also are able to collect benefits for their spouses who are injured or killed in the duty, such as police officers or firefighters.

Holder’s ruling is a huge step forward in the ongoing battle for civil rights in this country. Every day same-sex couples combat prejudice, hostility and injustice, all because some people believe that they shouldn’t be allowed to love who they choose.

Same-sex couples often are afforded little to no legal protection in regards to their relationship — they might not be able to visit their partner or child during a hospital emergency and they don’t have access to family leave or bereavement if their partner is sick or passes away.

For same-sex couples, everything from insurance to inheritance to immigration to housing is complicated. This isn’t just problematic from a financial and legal perspective, but it means that the well-being and security of same-sex families are at risk every single day. They have no protection and support from their government, communities or workplaces, even though they are citizens who pay the same taxes and work just as hard as heterosexual couples do.

It’s a civil rights travesty and one that will likely shame our future generations for years to come. Thankfully, Holder’s recent ruling is a big step in the right direction, and one that is hopefully a harbinger of positive changes to come.

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