He told the state attorneys-general they are not obligated to stand behind state laws they believe are discriminatory or violate the constitution.
As gay marriage battles heat up in several states across the country Attorney general Eric Holder is encouraging his state counterparts to not defend bans on same-sex marriage.
"I believe that we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation. And we must endeavor in all of our efforts to uphold and advance the values that once led our forebears to declare unequivocally that all are created equal," said Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General.
In his speech before a group of attorneys general, Holder said gay marriage bans are unconstitutional.
Six democratic state attorneys general have already refused to defend such bans in court including Oregon.
"There is no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage in Oregon,” said Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon Attorney General.
But critics and some republicans counter that the top state law enforcement officials have a duty to stand behind their state laws.
In Arizona, gay rights have also been thrust into the political spotlight. As governor Jan Brewer decides whether to sign or veto a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to others based on their personal religious beliefs.
"This is simply protecting religious freedom that is recognized and supported in the First
Amendment," said Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R –Arizona)
"They need to keep their religious philosophies in their churches..."
"Business executives from Apple and American Airlines -- which have hubs or are building plants in Arizona have called the governor asking her to veto the bill.
She has until the end of the week to make her decision.