Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that state attorneys general don't have to defend laws that they believe to be discriminatory, drawing fresh questions over the sanctity of state’s rights and the issue of gay marriage.
Six state attorneys general in Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada, and Oregon, all Democrats, have refused to defend bans on same-sex marriage in their states against lawsuits filed by gay couples, the Associated Press reports. Additionally, New Mexico’s Democratic Attorney General, Gary King, has challenged laws that say same-sex marriage is not allowed in his state.
Holder’s comments come in the wake of a controversial bill in Arizona that would allow businesses to defend their decision not to serve same-sex couples in the name of “religious freedom.” Gov. Jan Brewer has until Friday to sign SB 1062, but state senators who regret their decision to support the bill, along with hordes of protesters, are asking her to veto it.
Holder, who has referred to gay rights as one of “the defining civil rights challenges of our time,” was asked about the bill in an interview with The New York Times. He said that while he doesn’t have a view on the constitutionality of the bill, it will face legal challenges if it becomes law, and the state’s attorney general would have to decide whether or not to defend it.