[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] on Saturday announced [press release] that the federal government will recognize same sex marriage in six additional states. The addition of Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming will now bring the total number of states recognizing same-sex marriage to 32. The decision by Holder comes after the US Supreme Court recently refused [JURIST report] to hear any case dealing with state issues of same-sex marriage. Holder declared it his goal to bring equality to all citizens, saying that the Department of Justice is “acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.” Holder also announced that the federal government will recognize all the same-sex marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin [JURIST reports] after their respected district courts ruled that their state law bans were unconstitutional.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be one of the most controversial issues in the US. Earlier this month courts in Arizona, Wyoming and Alaska struck down [JURIST report] bans on same-sex marriage. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] also recently struck down [JURIST report] same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. That ruling followed the Supreme Court’s announcement that it had denied seven pending appeals, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana. Additionally the Kansas Supreme Court [official website] recently temporarily halted [JURIST report] the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses until it hears oral arguments on the issue next month.