Holder: Discriminatory laws don’t need defending

BY Eric Tucker, Associated Press  February 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM EST
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder says state attorneys general are not obligated to defend laws in their states banning same sex-marriage if they don’t believe in them.

Holder made the remarks Tuesday at a winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General.

He says decisions not to defend state laws should not be steeped in political disagreements and instead but “must be reserved only for exceptional circumstances.” But, Holder says, “we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation” and that upholding equal rights is an important principle.

Democratic attorneys general in five states — Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Nevada — have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans against lawsuits filed by gay couples.