US gay group welcomes Obama’s attorney general nominee

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America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans group has welcomed the nomination of Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States.

Human Rights Campain said Mr Holder, who would be the first African-American to hold the office, proved himself to be “a strong advocate for fairness and basic rights and an unswerving proponent of fully-inclusive federal hate crimes legislation.”

In 1999 as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration, he spoke in favour of federal laws against homophobic hate crimes.

“In Eric Holder, President-elect Obama has chosen an attorney general who has demonstrated his dedication to civil rights, protecting communities from hate violence, and the fair and equal application of our laws,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“Eric Holder has recognised the deleterious effect that hate and bias crimes have not just on victims, but on entire communities.

“President-elect Obama’s appointment continues to prove his commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”

HRC said Mr Holder’s appointment “is the latest in a series of moves by President-elect Obama that illustrate his commitment to fairness and LGBT equality.”

Mr Holder was nominated yesterday. His appointment has to be confirmed by the Senate.

Barack Obama beat Republican John McCain to become President-elect on November 4th. He will take office on January 20th.

Yesterday he also nominated Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination, as Secretary of State.

The President-elect is a vocal supporter of LGBT rights.

In a statement published on the Presidential transition website last month, Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Biden committed themselves to strengthening federal hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act.

The President-elect also committed to support civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples.

“Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples,” the statement read.

“Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defence of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognised unions.

“These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.”

He said he wanted an end to the ban on openly gay people serving in the US Armed Forces, and said he would support federal protection in employment for LGBT people.

President-elect Obama said he believes in adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“A child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not,” the statement read.

The new administration has pledged to develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies within 12 months of taking office.