Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday stated that state attorneys general are not obligated to defend unconstitutional laws.

Holder made his remarks in addressing the National Association of Attorneys General winter meeting held in Washington D.C.

“Any decisions – at any level – not to defend individual laws must be exceedingly rare,” Holder said. “They must be reserved only for exceptional circumstances. And they must never stem merely from policy or political disagreements – hinging instead only on firm constitutional grounds. But in general, I believe 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 and entitled to equal opportunity.”

Republican attorneys general disagreed with Holder, saying they would continue to defend state laws and constitutional amendments which prohibit gay couples from marrying.

“Our freedom depends on upholding the rule of law and obtaining the consent of the governed,” Alan Wilson, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), told The Wall Street Journal. “Republican attorneys general will continue to fight every single day to protect our Constitution and defend states' rights.”