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Marriage Equality

Eric Holder: 'Time Has Come' for Marriage Equality

Eric Holder: 'Time Has Come' for Marriage Equality


The attorney general makes a strong case in a USA Today op-ed and says the Justice Department will filed a pro-equality brief with the Supreme Court.

"The time has come" for nationwide legal recognition of same-sex couples and their families, says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in an opinion piece published in USA Today.

As the Supreme Court prepares to consider the issue of marriage equality, Holder's Justice Department will file a brief this week "setting forth our position that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the fundamental constitutional guarantee of 'equal protection of the laws,'" Holder writes. "It is clear that the time has come to recognize that gay and lesbian people deserve robust protection from discrimination."

He goes on to say, "Marriage bans inflict concrete harms that touch nearly every aspect of daily life for gay and lesbian couples." He mentions problems with taxation, inheritance, adoption, and hospital visitation as well as the stigma these bans inflict on same-sex couples and their children.

He also notes how far the nation has come in the realm of marriage equality -- when he took office in 2009, only two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, allowed same-sex couples to marry, but now 37 do, "leaving fewer states with same-sex marriage bans in force today than there were with interracial marriage bans in 1967 when the Supreme Court deemed them unconstitutional." And the Justice Department played a role in this, he says, by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 and leading to "a surge of court decisions securing marriage rights in states from coast to coast."

Holder adds that even with nationwide marriage equality, "our work is not complete until every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizen has achieved equal footing and equal treatment under the law." He does not mention the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or other specific legislation, nor his department's intrepretation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to cover gender identity. But he concludes, "In the coming months, this administration -- and this Department of Justice -- will continue to stand with all LGBT Americans, to hold fast to our principles, and to bring about the change our citizens deserve."

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