Attorney General Eric Holder Praises Hate Crimes Law, Lacks Familiarity with Maine Marriage Equality Ballot Measure


Guestblogger COREY JOHNSON

I just left the signing of the Department of Defense Authorization bill, to which the the inclusive hate-crimes bill was attached. It was a very moving occasion and I'll have a post later reflecting on this historic day for the LGBT community, but for now some remarks from Attorney General Eric Holder. I took the (blurry, apologies) photo above of Holder, Judy Shepard, and White House Office of Public Engagement Deputy Director Brian Bond just before the ceremony.

Holder made himself available just after the event and was asked a few questions. I was able to ask him to clarify his recent weak remarks on Question 1 in Maine, but unfortunately Holder said he was not familiar with the ballot measure.

Said Holder: "I think this is the next great civil rights bill. We have after ten, twelve years finally come to recognize that federal law should apply, as the President said, to all Americans. This is a great tool for the Justice Department and will I think significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, for women and for gay and lesbian Americans. This is a great, great day and too long coming."

A follow-up was asked about what actions the Justice Department's civil rights division can take tomorrow that they couldn't take today on hate crimes.

Answered Holder: "We can give assistance to state and local prosecutors who will investigate the vast majority of these crimes and in those instances where they don't have the ability to or desire, we can now prosecute these crimes and we could not do that thirty minutes ago. Now we can."

Recalling Holder's recent appearance in Maine at which he was asked about Question 1 and surprisingly refused to take a stand, I wanted to see if he had any clarification, so I asked him, "You were in Maine earlier this week and were asked about Question 1, which would take away same-sex marriage. You didn't comment on it at the time but would you like to clarify?"

Said Holder: "Well, what I said was that the President has indicated and I personally favor of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and that is something we are working to do."

I replied, "And the referendum in Maine — would you like to speak further on that?"

Holder's answer? "I don't really know enough about the referendum over there to comment."


  1. doogiehowsah says

    Very, very nice work Mr. Johnson. It’s inspiring to see a blog like Towleroad take up the mantle of actually asking tough questions when our major news organizations won’t, or have forgotten how.

  2. says

    Did you ask him why he (Attorney General Eric Holder) did not act on a Friday deadline in the case of Genesio “Junior” Oliveira, effectively denying the 30-year-old Brazilian man’s request for asylum in the U.S. on humanitarian grounds?

    He could have granted Oliveira asylum, if nothing more than to show solidarity to the gay community and that the administration is in support of the DOMA repeal. If it was a heterosexual marriage, Oliveira would still be here.

    Even though this hate crimes bill took over 10 years (through tough times for Judy Shepard), one attaboy does not wipe the slate clean.

  3. Michael @ says

    Bravo, Corey!

    But an inexcusable dodge by the Attorney General.

    Stupid Hat or Coward Hat…either make him and his boss look bad.

  4. Chris says

    You arrogant ass queens.Give me a break what does he (Eric Holder) have to do with the Maine issue simply nothing. He’s an attorney general. This will all boil down to a vote and hopefully we the gays will win.

    And as far as Genesio “Junior” Oliveira. Membership haves it’s priviledges. Humanitarian reasons? I’m curious what are those? Brazil last I knew treats it’s gay citizens well. Please just fill out the form and go through the process like everyone else. If you did’nt know Heterosexuals can no longer marry foreigners and they automatically become American Citizens nor claim asylum only the Cubans have that right and I find that discriminatory in itself.

  5. grego says

    How could the AG not be familiar with the Maine NO on 1 question? Maybe he should have stuck his fat neck out the window during the DC March on Washington and learned a thing or two. Talk about an asshat.
    VERY Disappointed with the hired help, Mister President

  6. jack ellis says

    Attorney General Holder says that this Hate Crimes law should apply to all Americans:

    “We have after ten, twelve years finally come to recognize that federal law should apply, as the President said, to all Americans.”

    Then in the next sentence Holder states that this law will be used to help only some segment of Americans:

    Holder says:

    “This is a great tool for the Justice Department and will I think significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, for women and for gay and lesbian Americans.”

    Not all Americans are gays, lesbians, women, people with disabilities.

    If gays want to earn the respect of other Americans they should be working for a fair and just criminal justice system that prosecutes all assaults, rapes, murders in a fair, strict manner – instead of trying to get special laws, special rights for politically correct special interest groups.

  7. star1 says

    Eric Holder was referring to what the hate crimes bill that just passed is going to do. If you have been paying attention you would know that everyone else is already covered under hate crimes legislation, so this legislation is making the criminal justice system more fair and just. As for the Attorney General not knowing anything about Question 1 in Maine, he has a hell of a lot more things to worry about that actually pertain to his job like cleaning up the raw sewage that the previous administration left @ the department of justice.

  8. Marvin Howard says

    I am writing to find some help for a young man Telfair County. This young man was arrested and handcuffed with his hands behind his back. He was thrown to the ground and tazed. He was then picked up and thrown on the car busting his chin. He did not receive medical attention until six hours later. The officer was out of control. This yuoung man was charged with felony obstruction. There have been several policeman saying that the officer was wrong, but will not come forward for fear of losing their job. The officer in question is the sheriff nephew and his mother is the magistrate judge. Please anyone who is reading this help me to help this young who is about to go to prison for nothing. HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

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