Attorney General Eric Holder is being
urged to recognize the marriages of nearly 2,000 gay and lesbian
couples performed in three states.
Over 50 groups on Friday sent a letter
calling on Holder to recognize the marriages which took place in
Indiana, Wisconsin and Arkansas after state and federal judges struck
down bans which limit marriage to heterosexual unions. In cases
challenging bans in Indiana and Arkansas, the judges refused to stay
their orders, while in Wisconsin a federal judge's preliminary order
declaring the state's ban invalid set off a rush to the alter.
Wedding bells ended after the rulings were stayed pending appeals.
“There is no legal reason to question
the validity of these nearly 2,000 marriages,” said the Respect for
Marriage Coalition, whose members include Freedom to Marry, the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC) and the ACLU. “Each was legally performed by
a clerk representing the states of Arkansas, Indiana and Wisconsin,
in accordance with each state's status and constitution and by
judicial order. There is simply no reason for the federal government
not to respect these couple's marriages and extend federal benefits.”
Holder has granted recognition to gay
couples who married under similar circumstances in Utah and Michigan.
“Recently, the Department helped to
ensure that same-sex couples married in Michigan and Utah were also
granted federal benefits and protections. Now, married couples in
Arkansas, Indiana and Wisconsin need you to act,” the
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Marry, said in a statement that “married couples should be treated
as what they are – married – fully able to share in the federal
protections and responsibilities afforded other married couples.”
“The Respect for Marriage Coalition
urges Attorney General Holder to apply that standard in these states
as he has in others,” Wolfson said.