02/04/2014 10:31 am ET Updated Feb 04, 2014

Gay Marriage Stabilizes Families, Eric Holder Tells Swedish Lawmakers

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WASHINGTON -- Less than three years after he decided the Justice Department should no longer defend the provisions of a law banning the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, Attorney General Eric Holder told Swedish lawmakers on Tuesday that they "stabilized families and expanded individual liberty" by legalizing such unions in their country.

Sweden became the seventh country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009, and Holder called the fight for LGBT rights one of the "defining civil rights challenges of our time" and praised the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down the key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

"This marked a major victory for the cause of equal protection under U.S. law, and a significant step forward for committed and loving couples throughout the country," Holder said. "Today, these couples and their families are one step closer to the equal treatment, and the full recognition, to which they, their loved ones, and their children are entitled."