Federal Government Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage In Six More States, Bringing The Total Number To 32

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Saturday that the federal government now recognizes same-sex marriage in six more states, which means thousands of gay couples will be able to receive federal benefits. The move comes just a few weeks after the Supreme Court declined to hear cases regarding same-sex marriage bans, leading to the official establishment — finally — of gay marriage in more than 10 states with pending legal challenges. The six new states that now have federally valid same-sex marriage are: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Holder said in a statement on Saturday:

With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans. 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.

Last week, the attorney general made the first round of same-sex marriage announcements, recognizing gay couples in seven states: Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. With 13 new states officiating same-sex marriage, it brings the current total to 32 states plus the District of Columbia.

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Gay couples living in these 13 states may now receive a slew of federal benefits that were previously barred from people in same-sex relationships, including rewards and assistance from the Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration, the attorney general said.

The federal government will also validate marriages in Wisconsin and Indiana that were performed in June when federal district courts overturned both states' bans. In Wisconsin's case, the ruling was stayed a week after it was issued, while the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted the issuance of marriage licenses in Indiana. Because of the lengthy legal trials, the status of those marriages performed in June was uncertain.

Same-sex marriage has been having quite the moment, bolstering the hopes of gay rights activists that America has finally reached the tipping point on the long contentious issue. Just last week, President Barack Obama said in an interview with The New Yorker that gay marriage was a constitutional right. "Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all 50 states," the president said, praising the Supreme Court for its decision to pass on gay marriage this term.

"In some ways, the decision ... may end up being as consequential—from my perspective, a positive sense — as anything that’s been done," Obama added.

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