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7 more states to recognize same-sex marriages

WASHINGTON — The federal government will recognize same-sex marriages in seven more states and extend federal benefits to those couples, the Justice Department said Friday.

The announcement comes one week after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand rulings from three appeals courts that struck down bans on gay and lesbian marriages. That order meant same-sex couples in those states could get married immediately.

The states covered by Friday’s announcement are Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado and Nevada.

The move brings the total number of states where gay and lesbian weddings have federal recognition to 26, plus the District of Columbia.

“With their long-awaited unions, we are slowly drawing closer to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans nationwide,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video message.

He said the federal government would work to extend benefits to gay and lesbian couples “to the fullest extent allowed by federal law.” If the Supreme Court decides to take up same-sex marriage directly, the Justice Department will “file a brief consistent with its past support for marriage equality,” Holder said.

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