Justice Department Expands Couples' Rights - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Justice Department Expands Couples' Rights

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Same sex couples who were married in another state and live in North Dakota will now have some of the same rights as heterosexual married couples.

While speaking at a human rights gala in New York over the weekend U-S Attorney General Eric Holder announced the justice department will begin offering the equal rights to married same sex couples.

"The singular ideal that has defined this country since its earliest days, the notion that all are created equal and that all are entitled to opportunity and equal justice under law," says Attorney General Eric Holder. 

Thirty-three states limit marriage as only between a man and a woman. The decision by Holder will require that even those states, which includes North Dakota, offer certain rights.

"It basically  takes the implementation of the supreme courts defense of marriage act ruling and takes it to the highest level that it could possibly be," says Matthew Leidholm, Dakota OutRight.

Which means if a same sex couple gets married in another state and comes back to North Dakota they would be able to file jointly for bankruptcy. They would also have the same rights as other inmates if one of them is in federal prison and, just like a married couple, one would not be able to testify against the other in federal court.

"Unfortunately for local LGBT people it does not have as big a practical impact as people may hope," says Leidholm.

That's because it only applies to federal courts unless the state were to pass legislation, which Leidholm says he hopes will happen someday.

There are 17 states that allow same sex marriage.

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