Feb. 25, 2014
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says his state counterparts do not have to defend bans on same-sex marriage.
Speaking to the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, Holder said in his view, gay marriage bans are unconstitutional.
Six democratic state attorneys general, including Mark Herring of Virginia, have already refused to defend such bans.
Holder urged others to follow their lead and not feel obligated to prosecute laws they believe are discriminatory.
"Now any decisions at any level not to defend individual laws must be exceedingly rare,” Atty. Gen. Holder said. “They must be reserved only for exceptional, truly exceptional circumstances. And they must never stem merely from policy or political disagreements."
Some Republicans counter that state attorneys general have a duty to stand behind their state laws, even if they do not agree with them.