HRC Calls on Attorney General Eric Holder to Extend Federal Recognition to AR and WI Married Couples

by Ianthe Metzger

WASHINGTON – Yesterday Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting that he ensure full federal recognition of the more than 1,000 committed and loving gay and lesbian couples who have legally married in Arkansas and Wisconsin since those states’ bans on marriage equality were struck down in recent weeks. Earlier this year, Griffin made similar requests of Attorney General Holder on behalf of same-sex couples wed under similar circumstances in Utah and Michigan.

“There is no legal reason to question the validity of these more than 1,000 marriages,” Griffin wrote. “Each was legally performed by a clerk representing the states of Arkansas and Wisconsin, in accordance with each state’s statutes and constitution. There is simply no reason for the United States government not to extend federal recognition to these couples.”

“I hope that your office will once again seize the mantle of leadership, as you did in Utah and Michigan, and ensure that lawfully married couples in Arkansas and Wisconsin receive the equal treatment that they deserve,” he continued.

Over 450 same sex couples in Arkansas were legally empowered to marry between May 6th and May 14th, until the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay on Pulaski County Circuit Court’s decision pending appeal. In Wisconsin, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, but stayed her decision a week later after 550 couples wed in the state.

Last week the Justice Department released a report detailing the Obama administration’s broad implementation of the Windsor ruling, which allowed the federal government to recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples for the purposes of crucial federal benefits and programs.  Under the leadership of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the breadth with which this administration has implemented the Windsor decision constitutes the single largest conferral of rights to LGBT people in history. 

To read Griffin’s letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, click here.


The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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