Huffpost Politics
Ryan J. Reilly Headshot

Eric Holder: State Attorneys General Should Be 'Suspicious' Of Gay Marriage Bans

Posted: Updated:
Eric Holder (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
Eric Holder (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder encouraged state attorneys general to be "suspicious" of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation on Tuesday, pointing to some state officials who have decided not to defend bans on same-sex marriage in their states.

The decision not to defend an individual law "must be exceedingly rare" and "reserved only for exceptional circumstances," Holder told the National Association of Attorneys General on Tuesday, adding that such decisions must be based on "firm" constitutional grounds.

"But in general, I believe we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation," Holder said. "And we must endeavor in all of our efforts to uphold and advance the values that once led our forebears to declare unequivocally that all are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity."

From Holder's speech:

This bedrock principle is immutable. It is timeless. And it goes to the very heart of what this country has always stood for -- even though, as centuries of advancement in the cause of civil rights have shown, our understanding of it evolves over time. As I said just after the administration's decision on DOMA was announced, America's most treasured ideals were not put into action or given the full force of law in a single instant. On the contrary: Our ideals are continually advanced as our justice systems -- and our Union -- are strengthened; and as social science, human experience, legislation and judicial decisions expand the circle of those who are entitled to the protections and rights enumerated by the Constitution.

Though Holder's Q&A with state attorneys general has been open to the press in past years, Justice Department public affairs officials escorted journalists out of the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton following Holder's scripted address.

Also on HuffPost:

Close
Eric Holder In The Hot Seat
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

U.S. expands legal benefits, services for same-sex marriages - CNN ...

Holder Sees Way to Curb Bans on Gay Marriage - NYTimes.com

Eric Holder To State AGs: You Don't Have To Defend Gay Marriage ...

Federal government to expand recognition of same-sex marriage ...

Eric Holder to accord more recognition to same-sex couples - Politico

Feds to Extend New Benefits to Same-Sex Couples: Eric Holder ...

Eric Holder's Commitment to Marriage Equality : The New Yorker

Why Windsor Wasn't Enough

Gay marriage: A good move by Attorney General Eric Holder

Holder applies same-sex marriage ruling to Justice

US state lawyers don't have to defend gay marriage bans: Holder

Gay Marriage Stabilizes Families, Eric Holder Tells Swedish Lawmakers

 
Register To Vote