February 28, 2011
The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
We thought you would enjoy reading some of the comments we received from our members in response to Wednesday’s announcement that the Department would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As you can see from the following quotes, the effect on morale was immediate and palpable:
“I started crying when I read the email [announcing the Department’s position on the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA] today. I am so happy!”
“I’m sure I’m not the only one who has never been more proud to be a DOJ lawyer than I am today!”
“Reading the [Attorney General’s] letter gave me joy and relief.”
“A big step for justice and equality at DOJ and well beyond!”
While we recognize that (as one of our members put it) “[g]reat work from a lot of people must have contributed to this development,” we are especially grateful for your leadership on this issue. As you have observed in other contexts, the Department is unique among federal agencies in that its mission is also a moral imperative — justice. We applaud your steadfast pursuit of this imperative even where the legally correct outcome is a controversial one. We are inspired by your courage and willingness to do the right thing.
As we are sure you appreciate, obstacles to full LGBT equality remain. So long as Section 3 of DOMA (to say nothing of Section 2) remains the law and is enforced, legally married same-sex couples will be denied equal benefits. But Wednesday was a day to celebrate, a celebration that continues to this day. We are all incredibly proud to be Department employees and thankful to have you as our Attorney General. To have your respect and support, and to have it stated in such a forceful and public way, is enormously empowering and gratifying. Thank you.
Marc R. Salans
Gavin J. Hilgemeier
David W. Knight