Same-sex married couples to receive more privileges in federal court

BY Kayla Ruble  February 8, 2014 at 6:31 PM EST

The U.S. Justice Department plans to extend privileges and protections for same-sex married couples in federal court, according to excerpts released from a speech Attorney General Eric Holder is slated to give Saturday evening.

Based on the excerpts, long-standing spousal privilege will be extended to same-sex couples. This protection allows spouses to avoid incriminating one another in federal court cases.

Same-sex spouses will also see changes in federal prison visitation policies, and will be allowed to file for joint bankruptcy.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding, and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign in New York.

According to the New York Times, the government estimates more than 1,100 federal regulations, rights and laws either touch on or are affected by marital status.

The Justice Department’s plan to extend these marital privileges to same-sex couples comes on the heels of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages honored in 17 states.