Attorney General: LGBT Equality Among 'Defining Civil Rights Challenges of Our Time'

In a speech delivered to the Parliament of Sweden, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said LGBT rights are among "the defining civil rights challenges of our time."

BY Daniel Reynolds

February 04 2014 2:57 PM ET

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

The U.S. Attorney General delivered a moving speech to the Parliament of Sweden that strongly advocated for a partnership in the advancement of LGBT rights.

In his remarks delivered Tuesday, which are notable as the attorney general's most pro-LGBT to date, Eric Holder evoked the progress both nations have made — from Sweden’s longstanding role as a “champion of human rights” to the advancements engendered by the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

“But the reality is that our work — in the United States, in Sweden, and around the world — is far from over,” he cautioned. “In so many ways, the promises of our respective Constitutions have yet to be fully realized.”

By citing the landmark victory at the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Winsdor, hate crimes legislation, and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Holder positioned equality for LGBT Americans as the forefront of this work, arguing that it is among "the defining civil rights challenges of our time." He bolstered this message with quotations from President Obama, who had stated on a September visit to Sweden:

“We share a belief in the dignity and equality of every human being; that our daughters deserve the same opportunities as our sons; that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters must be treated equally under the law; that our societies are strengthened by diversity.”

Discussing the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which has caused international concern with its passage of anti-LGBT legislation, Holder also evoked "the fundamental truth that no matter where you live, who you love, or who you are — whether you’re a public servant or a businessperson; an educator, a scientist, or an athlete competing at the highest level and on a world stage — every human being is, and must be, free and equal in both dignity and rights."

At his speech’s conclusion, Holder called for both nations to recommit to ending discrimination and the cause of civil rights.

“Neither tradition nor fear of change can absolve us of the obligation we share: to identify and eradicate discrimination in all its forms.”

Read the full text of Holder’s speech after the jump.

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