These are words of the remarkable outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder who persuaded President Barak Obama to get on board and support same-sex marriage. In an op-ed piece in USA Today the Attorney General writes about the issue that the US Supreme Court will revisit this year.
“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 recognise 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.
The mental and emotional injuries are just as acute. A marriage ban written into state law broadcasts the state’s view that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, undeserving of the rights and protections offered to opposite-sex couples. It creates a stigma that pervades society, encouraging individuals to harass or belittle even their loved ones because of pressures brought by their community. And it harms relationships between family members by perpetuating a destructive notion that some individuals — and some children — should be shown less love and support simply because of who they are. That is a view the Department of Justice flatly rejects. And with our brief, we will make clear that the United States stands firmly on the side of equality.’