US: White House says Congress needs to pass laws for further same-sex benefits changes

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The White House has confirmed that it has extended benefits to same-sex couples as far as possible following the repeal of DOMA, with further changes requiring legislation from Congress.

The Defence of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court on June 26 last year, ending a ban on federal recognition of same-sex couples, and allowing for benefits to be extended.

In the year since, the White House has worked to extend as many benefits to same-sex couples as possible, including state-funded Medicare and military benefits.

However, US Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed that the year-long review following the judgement has now ended.

He said: “I am pleased to report that agencies across the federal government have implemented the Windsor decision to treat married same-sex couples the same as married opposite-sex couples for the benefits and obligations for which marriage is relavant, to the greatest extent under the law.

“The implementation of the Windsor decision across the entire federal government is an accomplishment that reflects countless hours of hard work, cooperation, and coordination across agencies

“As additional issues arise, we will continue to work together to uphold this Administration’s fundamental commitment to equal treatment for all Americans, and to extend this fundamental equality to all Americans.”

The Department of Justice  found yesterday that in “almost all instances, federal benefits and obligations for same-sex married couples will be provided, regardless of where the couple lives.”

They said that there are some provisions which stop the federal government from extending specific benefits to same-sex couples in states that do not recognise equal marriage. The Democrats have introduced legislation to close these gaps, which include Social Security and Veterans benefits.