Department Of Justice Files “Friend Of The Court” Brief At SCOTUS In Support Of Marriage Equality

Just hours ago I reported on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s op-ed which promised an amicus brief at SCOTUS in support of the upcoming marriage equality cases on April 28th from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

And, like magic, here it is.

In the 46 page filing, the DOJ urges the high court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage because, “there is no adequate justification for such a discriminatory and injurious exercise of state power.”

From the brief:

“The marriage bans challenged in these cases impermissibly exclude lesbian and gay couples from the rights, responsibilities, and status of civil marriage. These facially discriminatory laws impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, unworthy of the recognition and benefits that opposite-sex couples take for granted. The bans cannot be reconciled with the fundamental constitutional guarantee of ‘equal protection of the laws.’”

I have to wonder with all the amicus briefs in our favor (and I know there are others filed against us), do they really resonate with the U.S. Supreme Court?

Hundreds of major corporations and hundreds of high-profile Republicans, the U.S. government itself – does it hold any sway with the nine judges on the high court? The fact that over 70% of Americans now live in states with marriage equality – does it weigh in on the outcome?

I’m hoping so.

Read the entire filing below.

Attorney General Eric Holder: “Nothing justifies excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage”

Attorney General Eric Holder

In an op-ed for USA Today, US Attorney General Eric Holder makes clear his – and the administration’s – support for marriage equality across the United States:

This week, the Justice Department will file a brief setting forth our position that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the fundamental constitutional guarantee of “equal protection of the laws.” It is clear that the time has come to recognize that gay and lesbian people deserve robust protection from discrimination.

Nothing justifies excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage. Denying them the right to marry serves only to demean them and their children, to degrade the dignity of their families and to deny them the full, free and equal participation in American life to which every citizen is entitled.

Marriage bans inflict concrete harms that touch nearly every aspect of daily life for gay and lesbian couples. The bans intersect with issues as varied as workers’ compensation, taxation and inheritance, posing challenges to basic financial security. Same-sex couples living in states with bans too often face obstacles to adopting and raising children together. And restrictions on medical decision-making and hospital visitation impose devastating burdens during the moments when a partner is needed most.

Read the entire essay at USA Today here.

US Attorney General Issues Statement On SCOTUS Decision To Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear four cases on same-sex marriage equality:

“After the Justice Department’s decision not to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court sent a powerful message that Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law. This landmark decision marked a historic step toward equality for all American families.

“The Supreme Court has announced that it will soon hear several cases raising core questions concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriages. As these cases proceed, the Department of Justice will remain committed to ensuring that the benefits of marriage are available as broadly as possible. And we will keep striving to secure equal treatment for all members of society – regardless of sexual orientation.

“As such, we expect to file a ‘friend of the court’ brief in these cases that will urge the Supreme Court to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans. It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans – no matter who they are, where the come from, or whom they love.”

President Obama To Nominate Loretta Lynch For US Attorney General

On Saturday, President Obama will nominate Brooklyn federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch for US Attorney General, replacing outgoing AG Eric Holder.

From Reuters:

President Barack Obama will nominate Brooklyn federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch to replace the retiring Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general and if confirmed, she would become the first black woman to serve in the post, the White House said on Friday.

The 55-year-old North Carolina native and Harvard-trained lawyer has deep experience in both civil rights and corporate fraud cases.

Lynch is known for a low-key personality and stirred little controversy during two tenures as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Her nomination requires Senate confirmation. The Senate twice previously has voted to confirm her to federal prosecutor jobs, the last time in 2010.

Bolding is mine.

This should be an easy confirmation in that the Senate has already confirmed her twice before.

Or will the now GOP controlled Senate decide to get unnecessarily political with this confirmation?

We shall see…

Two of Ms. Lynch’s cases to note:

• Lynch first gained attention for her work prosecuting members of the New York City Police Department for the 1997 beating and sexual assault of a Haitian immigrant with a broom handle. The case became a national symbol of police brutality.

• Lynch has led the prosecution of Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican congressman from Staten Island, for alleged tax fraud. Even under indictment, Grimm was reelected to the House this week.

Federal Government Officially Recognizes Marriage Equality In The Latest Six States With Same-Sex Marriage

US Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government now officially recognizes same-sex marriage in six states where the freedom to marry recently became legal (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming).

From LGBTQ Nation:

The government’s announcement follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month to decline to hear appeals from five states that sought to keep their marriage bans in place. It brings the total number of states with federal recognition of gay marriage to 32, plus the District of Columbia.

Couples married in these states will qualify for a range of federal benefits, including Social Security and veterans’ benefits.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving full equality for all Americans,” Holder said.

The attorney general said the government is working “as quickly as possible” to make sure same-sex married couples in these states receive the “fullest array of benefits” that federal law allows.

At this writing, in the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in 32 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming), and in the District of Columbia.

US Justice Department Will File Brief with SCOTUS in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

“I expect that the Justice Department will file a brief and the brief will be consistent with the positions that we have taken in the past in support of same-sex marriage. I can’t imagine that that would be — that we would take any other position in — while this president is in office, and certainly as long as I am attorney general, or anybody who is my successor.

“I think the country is ready for that. I think all the polls certainly show that. The reactions to the continuing number of court cases that have found same-sex marriage to be constitutionally mandated — the polls have shown that the American people, I think, are prepared to accept that.

“Now this has been a sea change. This is something that has happened, I think, relatively quickly. Part of it is generational. I talk to my kids, who seem, no problems with this, no issues with this at all.

“But I think it’s more than a generational change. I think that people who know folks who are gay, who are lesbian, and who are their friends, their coworkers, they see the moral side to this. Um, it’s a civil-rights issue. From my perspective, it is the civil-rights issue of our day — gay and lesbian equality.”

– Attorney General Eric Holder speaking with NBC News‘ Pete Williams

US Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Resignation

Attorney General Eric Holder has offered his resignation and will step down as soon as his successor can be confirmed.

Via NPR:

The decision to leave was Holder’s alone — the two sources tell NPR that the White House would have been happy to have him stay a full eight years and to avoid what could be a contentious nomination fight for his successor. Holder and Obama discussed his departure several times and finalized things in a long meeting over Labor Day weekend at the White House.

Department of Justice will file brief in support of same-sex marriage at SCOTUS

US Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News this weekend that the Department of Justice is prepared to file a brief in support of same-sex marriage should Utah, or any other state, bring their case to the US Supreme Court.

From LGBTQ Nation:

Holder said the brief would be “consistent with the actions that we have taken over the past couple of years,” after the Obama Administration refused to defend a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down that provision.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled in a challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, that states cannot prohibit two people from marrying simply because they choose a partner of the same-sex.

It was the first time a federal appeals court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

AG Eric Holder slaps back at Rep. Louie Gohmert in speech

US Attorney General Eric Holder went off-script in a speech to the National Action Network convention in New York City last night.

“I’m pleased to note that the last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms even in the face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity.”

“And if you don’t believe that, you look at the way — and forget about me, forget about me — you look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee,” he continued. “That had nothing to do with me. Forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

While Holder doesn’t mention Rep. Louie Gohmert by name, it was clear who he was referring to after a heated exchange in at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.  From TalkingPointsMemo:

Under questioning by Gohmert at a House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Holder was again asked for documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal that led to his being held in contempt of Congress two years ago.

“I’ve read you what your department promised and it is inadequate,” Gohmert said. “And I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our Attorney General but it is important that we have proper oversight.”

“You don’t want to go there, buddy, alright? You don’t want to go there, ok?” interjected Holder.

“I don’t want to go there?” responded Gohmert.

“No. You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me,” a visibly agitated Holder shot back. “I think it was inappropriate, I think it was unjust, but never think that that was just a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”

US Attorney General Eric Holder says state AG’s not required to defend unconstitutional laws

US Attorney General Eric Holder shared in an interview yesterday that state attorney generals are not required to defend laws that are found to be unconstitutional.

Careful not to encourage state AG’s to disavow their own laws, Holder said that officials who have carefully studied marriage equality bans could refuse to defend them.

From the New York Times:

“Engaging in that process and making that determination is something that’s appropriate for an attorney general to do,” Mr. Holder said.

As an example, Mr. Holder cited the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, which forced public school integration 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,” Mr. Holder said.

The nation’s first black attorney general, Mr. Holder has said he views today’s gay-rights campaigns as a continuation of the civil rights movement that won rights for black Americans in the 1950s and ’60s. He has called gay rights one of “the defining civil rights challenges of our time.”

Currently, six state AG’s have refused to defend gay marriage bans in courtrooms while still enforcing the laws.