I couldn’t agree more…
Although I am excited for Loretta Lynch to assume the position of Attorney General after months of intentional delay from childish Republicans, I have to say that I will certainly miss Eric Holder, a champion of equality and a fair justice system for all.
Eric Holder, the first African-American to hold the position of Attorney General, served for six years in what he called the “golden age” of the Justice Department. And why shouldn’t Holder’s tenure be regarded as such? In a country that is rapidly evolving on gay and lesbian rights and coming to grips with the very real phenomena that is systemic racism in our justice system, Holder and his team have been at the forefront to bring about much needed change in the way our laws are executed.
There is no denying that Eric Holder will go down in history as a powerful proponent of the rights to our LGBT citizens . Over four years ago, against the recommendations of Washington lawyers, Holder and the justice department announced their office wouldno longer support the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act which denied federal benefits for same-sex married couples and defined a marriage as being between only a man and a woman. Last year, the Department of Justice expanded the federal recognition of same-sex marriages when it came to federal legal matters which included bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits. At the time, 34 states had not recognized same-sex marriage, but that didn’t stop Holder and his department from doing the right thing:
“It is the (Justice Department’s) policy to recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible, to ensure equal treatment for all members of society regardless of sexual orientation,” Holder said.
Then, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the cases against DOMA and Prop 8, Holder called same-sex marriage and the equal rights of LGBT Americans the “next civil rights issue.” The first time any Attorney General had taken such a stance. His evolving nature, from DOMA supporter to LGBT advocate, shows that anyone in power, no matter how high up, can realize that discrimination is wrong.
But his fight against discrimination in America doesn’t stop with the LGBT community. When the Supreme Court notoriously gutted the Voting Rights Act, the landmark piece of legislation that protected African-Americans from discrimination in the south, Holder was fuming. And rightfully so. However, the decision by the Supreme Court did not, in any sense, deter Holder from protecting one of the most sacred rights we as Americans have: The right to vote. Writing for AL as a guest editor:
Since the Court’s ruling, we have used the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act to fight back against voting restrictions in states throughout the country. In Texas, we have sought to block as discriminatory a strict photo identification law and two statewide redistricting plans. In North Carolina, we brought suit to enjoin a sweeping election statute that imposes a very restrictive voter identification requirement, reduces early voting opportunities, and eliminates same-day registration during early voting. And in Ohio, Wisconsin, and on behalf of Tribal Nations in Montana and South Dakota, we have supported plaintiffs challenging a wide array of voting restrictions under the Voting Rights Act. We have also successfully litigated cases to protect the right of military and overseas voters to register and vote by absentee ballot in federal elections.
The Justice Department is also working hard outside the courtroom. We dispatch federal monitors to polling places around the country, in a fair and nonpartisan manner, to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot free of intimidation, discrimination, or obstruction.
While Democrats in blue states make it easier to vote, red states continue to make it harder to vote. At least they try to. But tanks to the ongoing effort and commitment to equality in the Holder Justice Department, conservative attempts to stifle voting has be getting harder and harder.
Racial issues don’t stop with the Voting Rights Act. In fact, America’s problem with systemic racism is infused within the justice system, both federally and non-federally. From Michael Brown to Eric Garner, Holder and the DOJ made it a priority to thoroughly investigate any possibility of policy brutality on black Americans. Just last year, Holder denounced what he feel are examples of “codified segregation” in public schools, discriminatory school policies that affect black males, and a spike in prison population most likely do to latent racism in the War on Drugs. Regarding the racism embedded in the War on Drugs, Holder, in his farewell address to DOJ, said:
“We are a nation that incarcerates too many people for too long and for no good law enforcement reason. It is time, it is time to change the approaches that we have been using these past 30-40 years.”
These are all very real issues that need to be at the forefront of our political and social discourse. We are lucky to have had an Attorney General who stood up and talked so freely and truthfully on these important issues. From LGBT rights to voting rights to immigration rights, Eric Holder dedicated himself to making the United States more equal, fair, and just for all.
Loretta Lynch has some very big shoes to fill.
AUTHOR: RYAN DENSON