Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of LGBT lawyers the goals of the association were shared by him and the administration of President Barack Obama.
Yesterday (23 August), Holder was the keynote speaker at the National LGBT Bar Foundation conference. The professional membership organization is holding its yearly conference, and job fair, in Washington, DC this week.
‘As Attorney General, I consider it a privilege to be part of this annual gathering, and to join such a diverse group of partners, colleagues, and friends in working to strengthen our nation’s legal community, and legal system. And as an American, I am deeply proud to stand with you in celebrating the remarkable, once-unimaginable progress that – particularly over the past three and a half years – your leadership and coordinated efforts have helped to bring about.’
As reported by the Washington Blade, Holder listed various LGBT highlights in the past three years, from the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to the Justice Department no longer supporting parts of the Defense of Marriage Act. For close to 18 years, the US military’s DADT policy did not permit gay troops to serve openly. The Defense of Marriage Act, commonly known as DOMA, is a federal law passed in 1996, It prohibits the government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even in states where gay marriage is legal. Couples cannot file joint federal tax returns or receive survivor benefits.
‘Thanks to the work of tireless advocates, activists, and attorneys in – and far beyond – this room, our nation has made great strides on the road to LGBT equality and the unfinished struggle to secure and protect the civil rights of all Americans,’ Holder said to the 1,000 people in the audience. ‘For President Obama, for me, and for our colleagues at every level of the Obama Administration, this work has long been a top priority – and I’m pleased to note that it has resulted in meaningful, measurable, and enduring change.’
Holder, who is facing political heat from a number of Republicans in Congress, was well received.
‘I thought the attorney general’s speech was fantastic,’ Steve Ralls, a spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said to the Washington Blade. ‘He did a great job of highlighting the work the administration has done on behalf of the community and highlighting that there’s work left to be done.’