August 29, 2018 at 6:00 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Eric Holder to headline annual Human Rights Campaign dinner
Eric Holder, Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

Eric Holder will be featured speaker at the HRC dinner. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will headline the upcoming annual national dinner for the Human Rights Campaign in D.C., the organization announced Wednesday.

Holder, who served as the first U.S. attorney general during the Obama administration, is set to be the featured speaker at the 22nd annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner on Sept. 13 along with Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Georgia.

Under Holder’s tenure at the Obama administration, the Justice Department initially defended the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in court, but reversed that position in legal maneuvering and sought to overturn DOMA after determining laws on sexual-orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny.

The Justice Department under Holder also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in litigation against California’s Proposition 8 and the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule for marriage equality nationwide.

Holder also authored a memo asserting the Justice Department would no longe assert discrimination against transgender workers isn’t prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex.

Upon leaving the Obama administration, Holder became chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which seeks to bolster Democratic victory in Election 2010 in anticipation of redistricting after the 2020 Census.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised Holder in a statement announcing his appearance at the dinner for his work in the Obama administration.

“As attorney general for the most pro-equality administration in history, Eric Holder has had a profound impact on the lives of countless Americans, and he played a crucial role in laying the groundwork for marriage equality and many of the rights LGBTQ people enjoy today,” Griffin said. “Now through his leadership of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, Eric Holder continues to be a champion of civil rights, helping to fight partisan gerrymandering and safeguard the fundamental right to vote.”

The dinner takes place two months before the congressional mid-terms elections, when progressive and LGBT advocates are hoping for a “blue” wave of Democratic victories for candidate who will stand up to President Trump.

Griffin also had high praise Abrams, who’s the first black woman nominated by a major party for statewide office in the United States and could be Georgia’s first black woman governor.

“Stacey Abrams is inspiring Americans across the state of Georgia and around the country through her historic campaign for governor,” Griffin said. “As a stalwart supporter of LGBTQ equality, Leader Abrams is fighting for the rights of all Georgians. HRC is on the ground working tirelessly to help ensure she prevails on Election Day.”

Also slated to make appearances at the dinner are Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), the first openly transgender person elected and seated to a state legislature, and candidate for Nevada secretary of state Nelson Araujo, who could be the first openly gay Latino elected to statewide office in Nevada.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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