State attorneys general who think their state's gay marriage bans are unconstitutional shouldn't have to defend them, according to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Speaking to the National Association of Attorneys General, Holder said deciding not to defend a state's law should only be done under "exceptional circumstances," noting cases against gay marriage bans qualify as such.
He added that his state counterparts should uphold the values "that all are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity."
"Any decisions, at any level, not to defend individual laws must be exceedingly rare," Holder said. "They must be reserved only for exceptional, truly exceptional circumstances."
"And they must never stem merely from policy or political disagreements, hinging instead on firm constitutional grounds," he added.
Holder's announcement is the latest salvo in a national battle to define marriage. Kellie Fiedorek, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, talked more about its implication on CBN News Today, Feb. 26.
In the weeks before Holder's speech, Democratic attorneys general in Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Oregon and Nevada had all already declined to defend same-sex marriage bans against lawsuits filed by gay couples.
Critics reacted to Holder's move, saying top state law enforcement officials have a duty to stand behind their state laws.
Meanwhile, CNS News reports a group of black pastors is calling to impeach Holder.
"President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have turned their backs on the values American people hold dear, values particularly cherished in the black community: values like marriage, which should be strengthened and promoted, rather than weakened and undermined," the Coalition of African American Pastors said in a statement.
In the meantime, the battle over marriage continues to rage from state to state week after week, with Michigan being the latest to put the institution on trial.
One two-week case involves a lesbian couple who want to overturn the state's 2004 voter-approved ban on gay marriage. It's a ban that passed by 59 percent and was upheld by the state Supreme Court.
"The state of Michigan's already spoken on this issue. The people, the public has spoken, and God has spoken," Rex Evans, pastor of Free Will Baptist Church, said.
In Arizona, gay marriage supporters are pressuring Gov. Jan Brewer not to veto a bill that protects the religious rights of business owners who don't want to provide services for same-sex couples.
The Arizona measure came about after Christian business owners in other states were sued for not providing wedding services like cakes or photography for same-sex couples.
One gay rights supporter said, "They need to keep their religious philosophies in their churches."
But supporters of the bill say it comes down to protecting religious freedom in the state and that it simply clarifies existing state law.
"The homosexual community will say, 'You need to be tolerant of our lifestyle,' religious rights supporter Nicole Burress said. "But that tolerance isn't reciprocated toward the religious community."