Attorney General Eric Holder is now arguing that state attorney generals who refuse to defend provisions in their state constitutions restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman are following in the footsteps of the civil rights movement.
"Mr. Holder has said he views today's gay-rights campaigns as a continuation of the civil rights movement that won rights for black Americans in the 1950s and '60s," the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Holder provided an example of what the Times was talking about when he spoke earlier this month at a dinner sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's most prominent advocate of same-sex marriage.
"Just as was true during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation's struggle for LGBT equality could not be higher," said Holder. "Then, as now, nothing less than our country's founding commitment to the notion of equal protection under the law was at stake."
Is Holder right? Is our country's founding commitment to the notion of equal protection under the law at stake in the same-sex marriage movement and in other causes advanced in the name of "LGBT equality"?
Yes, but not in the sense Holder claims.
On Good Friday 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century -- was arrested and thrown into the Birmingham jail for marching in protest of racist laws in what King described as "probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States."
While King was incarcerated, a group of local clergymen published a statement in a Birmingham newspaper questioning his act of civil disobedience. Kings response, "A Letter from Birmingham Jail," was brilliant and timeless.
"One may well ask: 'How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?'" King wrote.
"The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust," he said. "I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
"I would agree with St. Augustine," said King, "that 'an unjust law is no law at all.'