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In the summer of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a central component of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), holding in U.S. v. Windsor that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages that have been legally performed in individual states. Until the June 26, 2015 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, not all states recognized or would perform same-sex marriages; that decision required all states to do so. The Obergefell decision in many ways trumped the policy announcement discussed below.
Almost a year and a half before the Obergefell decision, in February of 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new Department of Justice (DOJ) policies on same-sex marriage. Holder’s memo stated in part, “It is the Department’s policy, to the extent federal law permits, to recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible, and to recognize all marriages valid in the jurisdiction where the marriage was celebrated.”
Though by its own terms not exhaustive, Holder’s memo:
As another part of the new policy, in criminal cases the DOJ would honor assertions of marital privileges involving legal same-sex marriages. (For detailed information about the marital privileges, see Privileged Information at Trial: Spousal Privileges for Same-Sex Couples.)