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AG Eric Holder Expects Justice Department to File SCOTUS Brief Supporting Marriage Equality: VIDEO

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In an interview last night with NBC News' Pete Williams, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked whether the Justice Department will file a brief in the gay marriage cases currently before the Supreme Court. 

On Monday, SCOTUS is set to consider whether to take up marriage equality cases from five states - Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. 

Said Holder:

I expect that the Justice Department will file a brief and the brief will be consistent with the positions that we have taken in the past in support of same-sex marriage. I can't imagine that that would be -- that we would take any other position in -- while this president is in office, and certainly as long as I am attorney general, or anybody who is my successor.

When Williams followed up with a question asking whether the country was ready for gay marriage, Holder responded in the affirmative. 

Yeah, I think the country is ready for that. I think all the polls certainly show that. The reactions to the continuing number of court cases that have found same-sex marriage to be constitutionally mandated -- the polls have shown that the American people, I think, are prepared to accept that. Now this has been a sea change. This is something that has happened, I think, relatively quickly. Part of it is generational. I talk to my kids, who seem, no problems with this, no issues with this at all. But I think it's more than a generational change. I think that people who know folks who are gay, who are lesbian, and who are their friends, their coworkers, they see the moral side to this. Um, it's a civil-rights issue. From my perspective, it is the civil-rights issue of our day -- gay and lesbian equality.

Check out the full interview - in which Holder also discusses his early life and career, his relationship with President Obama, the work he's done on voting rights, Robert Kennedy, the housing crisis, ISIS and more - AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "AG Eric Holder Expects Justice Department to File SCOTUS Brief Supporting Marriage Equality: VIDEO" »


Attorney General Eric Holder Resigns; Groups Push for LGBT Nominee — VIDEO

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President Obama today announced the resignation, reported earlier, of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Obama lauded Holder for his work in the Justice Department and as Attorney General, "from counterterrorism to civil rights, public corruption to white-collar crime."

Also noted were Holder's efforts to strengthen hate crimes law and his recommendation that the federal government stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, opening the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and federal benefits for same-sex couples.

Holder also mentioned that work, among many other issues:

We have begun to realize the promise of equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters and their families.  We have begun to significantly reform our criminal justice system and reconnect those who bravely serve in law enforcement with the communities that they protect.

Watch the announcement and read a transcript of the remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

DurkanIn related news, the Human Rights Campaign today urged Obama to replace Holder with the first LGBT cabinet member:

"President Obama faces a historic opportunity in light of Attorney General Holder's departure,” said Chad Griffin, President of HRC. “The President has expressed a commitment to appointing a cabinet that reflects the full diversity of the American people, and there are many richly-qualified candidates available to serve as the first openly-LGBT cabinet secretary. It would be a natural extension of this administration's enduring commitment to equality to send a message of visibility and inclusion by nominating such a candidate to serve in this historic role."

One potential nominee is U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, Buzzfeed reports:

“It will be a huge milestone if the president chooses a qualified LGBT American like Jenny Durkan,” Torey Carter, managing director of the Victory Fund, told BuzzFeed News. “It would send a signal that experience and ability matter a lot more than gender or sexual orientation, and that would matter a lot to young people who worry they can’t be authentically themselves and still succeed in life.”

Continue reading "Attorney General Eric Holder Resigns; Groups Push for LGBT Nominee — VIDEO" »


Eric Holder to Step Down As Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder is prepped to announce his resignation today, NPR reports:

HolderTwo sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly "adamant" about his desire to leave soon for fear he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama's second term. [...]

Holder most wants to be remembered for his record on civil rights: refusing to defend a law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman; suing North Carolina and Texas over voting restrictions that disproportionately affect minorities and the elderly; launching 20 investigations of abuses by local police departments; and using his bully pulpit to lobby Congress to reduce prison sentences for non-violent drug crimes. Many of those sentences disproportionately hurt minority communities.

NPR's source adds that Solicitor General Don Verrilli, the administration's top representative to the Supreme Court who argued before SCOTUS against Prop 8 last year, is a leading candidate for replacement. 


Eric Holder: DOJ Will File Brief in Support of Gay Marriage Should SCOTUS Take Up a Case — VIDEO

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In an interview yesterday with ABC News' This Week, Attorney General Eric Holder said that should the Supreme Court take up a case challenging a state ban on gay marriage that the Department of Justice would file a brief in support of marriage equality, citing the Windsor case.

Said Holder: "I think a lot of these measures that ultimately will come before the court will not survive a heightened scrutiny examination."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Eric Holder: DOJ Will File Brief in Support of Gay Marriage Should SCOTUS Take Up a Case — VIDEO" »


Monday Speed Read: Family Leave, Social Security, VA Benefits, Mike Michaud, Trans Connections

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

LaborOPM PROPOSES RULE CHANGE:

In conjunction with a proposed rule change regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act announced by the U.S. Department of Labor last week, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is publishing a proposed regulation change in today’s Federal Register to ensure that federal employees with same-sex spouses can take leave to care for that spouse. The proposal calls for changing the definition of “spouse” to include a husband or wife in a same-sex marriage that was licensed by at a state or, if licensed outside the country, “was valid in the place where entered into and could have been entered into in at least one State.”

SOCIAL SECURITY SNAG: Holder

In its memorandum to the president June 20, the Department of Justice indicated that the Social Security Administration would treat same-sex spouse applicants for Social Security Income as married “if they live in states that recognize same-sex marriages.” The National Center for Lesbian Rights said that, while the overall DOJ memo shows that DOJ and the Obama administration have moved “aggressively and diligently” to provide equal treatment to same-sex married couples in the past year, the Social Security restriction “underscores how far we have yet to go to achieve true equality.”

VETS ADMINISTRATION, TOO:

The U.S. Veterans Administration announced its post-Windsor guidelines Friday, too, noting that the “Special provisions relating to marriage” under the U.S. Code governing Veterans’ Benefits “requires the Department to look to the place of residency rather than the place of celebration to determine whether a Veteran's marriage is recognized for the purposes of VA benefits.” The VA press release added, “VA is committed to treating all Veterans and their spouses as equally as possible under the law.”

MICHAUD GRAND MARSHALL IN PORTLAND: Michaud

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) served as one of the grand marshals for Portland’s largest ever Pride parade Saturday. According to the Portland-Press Herald, Michaud walked the parade route shaking hands, while independent Eliot Cutler, his chief rival to unseat incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage, walked the route carrying a rainbow flag. The Press Herald said Governor LePage, a Tea Party conservative, was invited to participate but a spokesperson said he was unable to fit the event into his schedule.

DIDN’T KNOW HE HAD A NANNY:

When he lived in Indonesia with his mother and her second husband, President Obama had a nanny who was transgender, according to Associated Press, though “she did not dress as a woman around her young charge.” Obama was between the ages of six and ten at the time. And President George W. Bush, says AP, had a transgender classmate to the White House for a Yale reunion.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Thursday Speed Read: Wisconsin, Eric Holder, Lambda Legal, DOJ Pride, Heather Mizeur, LGBT Cities

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

WISCONSIN ROLLER-COASTER:

VanhollenTuesday, the Wisconsin Vital Records office said it was not processing the records of marriage licenses obtained by same-sex couples; Wednesday, it said it is. According to media reports in the state, Vital Records got its marching orders from the state attorney general J.B. Van Hollen. Van Hollen is still fighting federal Judge Barbara Crabb’s June 6 decision declaring the state ban on marriage licenses for same-sex couples to be unconstitutional. He has asked the Seventh Circuit federal appeals court for an emergency stay of the decision.

HOLDER SPEAKS AT LAMBDA EVENT:

HolderSpeaking at a Lambda Legal reception in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder noted all the victories and accomplishments of the LGBT civil rights movement since the 1969 Stonewall riots, but added, “fully 60 years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the LGBT community is still waiting for its own unequivocal declaration that separate is inherently unequal.” He reiterated President Obama’s call for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He criticized the Boy Scouts of America policy that continues to bar gay adult scout leaders, saying it “preserves and perpetuates the worst kind of stereotypes.”

DOJ PRIDE EVENT HONORS HOLDER:

LevyDOJ Pride, the LGBT group at the U.S. Department of Justice, presented U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder with its Gerald B. Roemer Award Tuesday. Holder used the opportunity to commend the work of openly gay Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery whose Civil Division is helping with implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. The group also honored lesbian Judge Judith Levy (pictured)who was confirmed to the U.S. District Court in Detroit last March, and heard from openly gay Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pam Karlan, who took over enforcement of voting rights laws last December, and Roberta Kaplan, the openly gay attorney who headed up the successful legal challenge by Edith Windsor to the Defense of Marriage Act.

COMMENTARY COMMENDS MIZEUR:

MizeurIn Tuesday’s Baltimore Sun, a local political commentator, Thomas Schaller, had this to say about lesbian state Delegate Heather Mizeur’s long-shot campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor: “Ms. Mizeur has acquitted herself quite well. Indeed, insofar as it is possible to win a campaign but lose an election, she may have already achieved that bittersweet distinction. For even if she fails to upset Mr. Brown by converting undecided, late defectors from the Gansler camp or other anti-Brown Democrats, she has proved to be an assertive, confident and unapologetically liberal candidate with a bright future in state and maybe even national politics.” The latest polls suggest the current lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown, is ahead with 41 percent of the vote, followed by Attorney General Doug Gansler with 20 percent, and Mizeur with 15 percent. The primary is June 24.

BEST LGBT CITY: LOS ANGELES OR SEATTLE?

A website called vocative has crunched 32 “data sets,” measuring 16 different factors, on 100 of the U.S.’s most populous cities to rank them in order of “Most LGBT friendly.” Los Angeles made the top of the list, followed by New York, San Francisco, Des Moines (sic), and Chicago. Just last week, a website called NerdWallet.com declared Seattle to be the most LGBT friendly city in America, followed by San Francisco, Atlanta, Oakland, and Long Beach. Back in January, the Advocate magazine declared Washington, D.C. to be the “most LGBT-friendly” place in America, followed by Pasadena, Seattle, Cambridge, MA, and Atlanta.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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