Eric Holder Tells State Attorneys General “You Don’t Have to Defend Homosexual Marriage Bans”

Attorney General Eric Holder said his state counterparts should carefully scrutinize gay marriage bans before defending them. | Mark Wilson via Getty Images
Attorney General Eric Holder said his state counterparts should carefully scrutinize gay marriage bans before defending them. | Mark Wilson via Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged his state-level counterparts to recognize that they’re not required to defend any state ban on same-sex marriage, speaking to The New York Times on Monday.

Holder argued that attorneys general should apply significant scrutiny to laws — like gay marriage bans — that raise constitutional issues before deciding to defend them.

“Engaging in that process and making that determination is something that’s appropriate for an attorney general to do,” he told the Times.

Holder has been a vocal proponent of social justice as attorney general, refusing to legally defend the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages sanctioned by the states — a move that ultimately led to the Supreme Court declaring that part of the law unconstitutional last summer.

The attorney general told The New York Times that he would have applied the same level of scrutiny to the kind of school segregation laws that Brown v. Board of Education overturned in 1954.

“If I were attorney general in Kansas in 1953, I would not have defended a Kansas statute that put in place separate-but-equal facilities,” Holder said.

Democratic attorneys general in six states — Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada and Oregon — have already declined to defend their state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Those decisions have drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.

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Source: Black Voices | Ashley Alman

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