U.S. Attorney General extends federal recognition to same-sex couples

CREATED Feb. 9, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Bond Perry is happily married.

"My relationship, as most loving couples, it's the most important thing. It's the cornerstone of my life," Perry said.

But it's not your traditional marriage. Perry is married to another man.

"The marriage that I am in now is a joy in a daily basis," Perry said.

Now same-sex couples like Bond and his spouse can feel a new joy. Legally married same-sex couples can now experience some of the same federal privileges heterosexual couples do.

"It's amazing, I never thought that I would see it," Perry said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will issue the directive Monday which says the Justice Department can no longer object if gay or lesbian partners refuse to testify against their spouses in Federal court. Same-sex couples will also be recognized as equal to traditional marriages in matters like bankruptcy, prison visits and survivor benefits.

"These initial changes will positively impact so many lives throughout the nation. All of these steps moving forward are worth celebrating," Holder said in a news conference Saturday night.

"This ruling has a lot of power behind it and it's about time," Reverend Margaret L. Beard said.

Beard is the Minister at All Faiths Unitarian Congregation in Fort Myers, which has always welcomed same-sex couples with open arms.

"It's very simple for us. We believe that all people have inherent worth and dignity and most of all there's no exceptions to that," Beard said.

The privileges will be extended to same-sex couples even in states like Florida, that don't recognize their marriages, as long as they are legally married in another state.