“We've put in all the blood, sweat and tears that every other couple has and goes through."
ANCHORAGE – Today, the Obama Administration issued a landmark announcement that will impact countless gay communities across the country.
The U.S. Department of Justice said beginning Monday, it will instruct employees to apply the same protections and privileges to spouses in same-sex marriages as they do to heterosexual marriages, no matter what state they live in.
Victoria Green, an Anchorage resident and gay parent, said this is a milestone for the gay community in Alaska.
Green has four adopted children with her partner of 10 years, Teri Huebler.
“We’ve put in all the blood, sweat and tears that every other couple has and goes through,” Green said.
They’ve thought about marriage, she said, but that would mean moving to a state where it’s recognized — outside of Alaska.
“It’s hard to kind of have that, and then have people say you don’t get the same rights as we do,” she said.
But that’s about to change, thanks to a new policy from the Obama Administration.
Legally married same-sex couples will no longer be required to testify against each other in court.
They can jointly file for bankruptcy, and will have the same visitation privileges in federal prisons. Surviving spouses of law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders would also qualify for death and education benefits.
Prior to this, Green said her rights were limited.
“Alaska is still one of the states that doesn’t have any rights for same-sex couples, no protection, can still be fired from jobs, kicked out of housing, depending on where you live … so this is one thing that will change that,” Green said.
The change is an incentive for her to get married, Green said.
But not everyone is celebrating; The National Organization for Marriage said this is federal overreach.
“When the federal government comes in and says this is what’s going to be despite what the law of the land says, we now have lawlessness,” said Christopher Plante, a spokesperson with the organization, via phone.
There’s a reason the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was put into place, Plante said, and states should be allowed to decide the definition of marriage.
“If it can be any two people than it can be any three people, or six people or whatever, because when you change the law once, there’s no legal, logical or philosophical stop to not change it again,” he said.
For Green, it’s about equality.
“It’s an inherent right, to choose the person you intend to marry, that’s a right that everyone should have, our Constitution says we have the right,” Green said.
And creating a safety net for her family is something that should happen, she said.
“Nobody is asking anybody to change their beliefs, it’s just asking to validate our relationships,” Green said.
The Alaska Department of Law is evaluating what this policy means for the state, where same-sex marriage is not recognized.