Barack Obama pays emotional tribute to departing pro-gay Attorney General

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Barack Obama has praised outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder – who was one of the strongest pro-gay voices in his cabinet.

Mr Holder was influential in the administration’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act at the Supreme Court – and has been key in upholding a pro-LGBT stance in a number of key legal battles.

The legal chief is set to imminently step down, after New York Attorney Loretta Lynch was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as his replacement.

Speaking at the unveiling of a portrait of Mr Holder, President Obama said:

“When Eric and I stood together at the White House and announced that he’d be leaving the Justice Department, he thanked all of you for joining him on a journey that, in his words, ‘will always be guided by the pursuit of justice and aimed at the North Star.’  And that sums up Eric’s career.

“A life guided by justice, aimed at his North Star — his bedrock belief in the fundamental rights and equality of all people.

“Several years ago, Eric recommended that our government stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, because he wants our country to be a place where love is love – and where same-sex marriage is recognized on the federal level, and same-sex couples can receive the same federal benefits as anybody else.

“With Eric Holder as its lawyer, America has become a better country.  Which means that saying goodbye is bittersweet.

“You have done a remarkable job.  It’s hard to let you go.  I tried to talk him out of it… but he’s earned a break.”

He continued: “Just yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Loretta Lynch to be the next Attorney General.

“Once the entire Senate confirms her and she’s finally allowed to get to work, I know that she is going to do a superb job.

“And, Eric, that means that you’re leaving the Justice Department in outstanding hands.”

The change of Attorney General is not expected to alter the administration’s stance in upcoming same-sex marriage cases ,with Ms Lynch expected to continue to urge in favour of equality.

Watch the clip below: