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Federal Agencies Recognize Gay Marriages In 6 More States

The federal government now recognizes same-sex marriage in 32 states and the capital, after Attorney General Eric Holder announced Saturday that federal agencies will now recognize same-sex married couples in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

"With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans," Holder said. "We are 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."

The six states are in judicial districts where cases were recently refused for review by the Supreme Court, paving the way for lower courts to rule against states' bans.

Saturday's move echoes a similar recent change in how the U.S. government treats same-sex marriages in seven other states: Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The federal government will also recognize unions that had been in a sort of legal limbo in Indiana and Wisconsin this summer, Holder said. The status of those marriages, performed just after initial rulings that overturned state bans this summer, had been thrown into question.

Legal wrangling over same-sex marriage is continuing in other states, including Kansas, where a federal judge canceled a hearing Friday in a case filed by the ACLU on behalf of two lesbian couples.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.