COPY-Justice Dept. to extend federal same-sex marriage rights

NEW YORK (CNN) - In a win for same-sex marriage advocates, the federal government will soon recognize same-sex marriages, even in the 34 states that don't allow it.

Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement late Saturday at a human rights campaign event.

"On Monday, I will issue a new policy memorandum that will - for the first time in history - formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law," he said.

What this means is in all federal legal matters, including bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits, the government will recognize same sex marriages as equal to traditional marriages.

The new benefits has limitations.

In the states where same-sex marriage is not recognized, the new policy will only apply where the U.S. government has jurisdiction.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.