Since 2009, Holder has exercised the powers of his office not merely to preserve the Justice Department as a static institution, as many of his predecessors have done, but to mobilize it as a force for proactive change.
Whether the old guard is wising up or dying off is no longer relevant. The gay rights movement is being won person by person, family by family, city by city, with Washington, D.C. a reluctant, self-congratulatory last stop.
If truth be told, Mandela's advocacy has shown very little light even in his country. South Africa has a serious problem with its LGBTQ population, and especially with lesbians. And its method to remedy its "problem" with lesbians is "corrective rape."
Who would have predicted just five years ago that potential contenders for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination would be knocking each other over -- in Iowa, no less -- trying to prove that they were the first to champion gay marriage?
The problem with this oppositional framing is that it isn't true. In reality, marriage equality and religious liberty can support and strengthen each other. And this is true even when people are conflicted about same-sex marriage.