Anti-gay laws don't need defending, says US attorney general

Any state attorney general who believes that a law banning same-sex marriage is discriminatory is not obligated to defend them, said Attorney General Eric Holder.

Keith Bedford/Reuters/File
United States Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a Human Rights Campaign gala in New York, February 8.

Attorney General Eric Holder says that state attorneys general who believe that laws in their states banning same-sex marriage are discriminatory are not obligated to defend them.

For an example of a discriminatory law, Holder turns to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case that led to public school integration. Had he been attorney general in Kansas in 1953, he told the New York Times, he would not have Kansas's separate-but-equal statute.

An attorney general should apply the highest level of scrutiny before reaching a decision on whether to defend laws that touch on core constitutional issues like equal protection, said Holder during an interview Monday with the Times. He says the decision shouldn't be political or based on policy objections.

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