Gay Marriage | Mark Herring | News | Virginia

Virginia Attorney General Says He Won't Defend State's Gay Marriage Ban in Court


Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and he won't be defending it in court, the AP reports:

HerringVirginia, widely considered a battleground state in the nationwide fight to grant same-sex couples the right to wed, will instead side with the plaintiffs who are seeking to have the ban struck down, a spokesman for Attorney General Mark Herring said in an email to The Associated Press.

"After a thorough legal review of the matter, Attorney General Herring has concluded that Virginia's current ban is in violation of the U.S. constitution and he will not defend it," spokesman Michael Kelly wrote.

Herring, who campaigned in part on marriage equality, planned to file a brief Thursday morning with the federal court in Norfolk, where one of the lawsuits is being heard, as notification of the state's change in position in the case, Kelly said.

There are currently two federal marriage equality cases in Virginia. The American Foundation of Equal Rights (AFER) and Ted Olson and David Boies have taken the lead of one case originally filed by a local law firm. In the other case, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are representing plaintiffs.

More from Politico:

“I had voted against marriage equality eight years ago back in 2006 even though at the time I was speaking out against discrimination and ways to end discrimination and I was wrong for not applying it to marriage,” Herring told NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Thursday. “I saw very soon after that how that hurt a lot of people and it was very painful for a lot of people.”

Herring said he spoke with constituents, coworkers and his family and has “come to see the issue very differently now.” His children were a part of his changing views, he said.

“They were instructive about the relationships that people have and they were helpful in getting me to see a different perspective,” Herring said. “They pressed me for the position I had taken and made me continue to question it, and I just came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do.”

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  1. Lambda Legal - doing the real work while HRC makes equal signs and throws parties. And whatever the hell GLAAD is supposed to be doing.

    Posted by: Tigernan | Jan 23, 2014 7:04:28 AM

  2. Things are looking up a bit in my home state...Democrats swept the November elections away from the hate-filled Republican slate, and just preserved majority in the state senate. Too much of this state is full of crackpots still, so I don't know if the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage will be repealed anytime soon...

    Posted by: Larry | Jan 23, 2014 7:20:04 AM

  3. This is the guy who just squeaked into office...thank god.

    Posted by: jmartindale | Jan 23, 2014 7:22:39 AM

  4. Encouraging progress here in VA!

    Posted by: NotSafeForWork | Jan 23, 2014 7:24:07 AM

  5. I'd love to hear the comments Ken Cucinelli has to offer about his successor. Last year at this time Virginia had a rabid religious fanatic as their Attorney General, but this time the voters chose an upgrade.

    Posted by: Steve Rider | Jan 23, 2014 7:27:42 AM

  6. If you live in Virginia as I and my partner do please send him a thank you via the VA AG website or his FB page. We should not take good people for granted.

    Posted by: Peter | Jan 23, 2014 8:53:08 AM

  7. Encouraging progress indeed. Strong statement when you're state's own AG not only refuses to defend his state's law and ban on same-sex couples marrying but sides with those challenging the ban. Unfortunately from a legislature standpoint, Virginia isn't going to get anything done regarding equality with the current makeup.

    Nice to have allies in high places, though. Thank you Mark Herring!

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 23, 2014 9:37:38 AM

  8. And that's why the approach to civil rights is so different under Democrats! This will have an impact.

    Posted by: Albert | Jan 23, 2014 10:37:57 AM

  9. It is also a nice reminder of how everyone should vote. His win was highly contested and was I believe the closest statewide election in Virginia history. Literally every single vote mattered. And how quickly change has come to the government in Richmond.

    Posted by: Beezer | Jan 23, 2014 10:38:13 AM

  10. In response to Tigerman's ignorant comment above:

    Thursday, 11 July 2013

    "I was honoured to be endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign this morning, and I am proud to be an ally in the fight for equality with Terry McCauliffe and and Ralph Northam ... As Attorney General, I will be committed to protecting the civil rights of all Virginians and to use the power of the office to promote equality."

    Attorney General candidate Mark Herring

    The Human Rights Campaign actively supported all three of the top Democratic political candidates in Virginia and worked tirelessly to turn out the gay voter for them. As at least 5% of the electorate in Virginia is gay, that certainly provided the margin of victory, in and of itself.

    All of the major gay groups: HRC, GLAAD, GLSEN, AFER and Lambda Legal: are working hard to promote gay rights in America. It is stupid and self-defeating to attack any one of them.

    Posted by: RonCharles | Jan 23, 2014 12:50:32 PM

  11. Same-gender couples in Virginia are now going to have a fair shot at opportunity and equality, for one simple reason: the new attorney general is a Democrat. There is no starker difference between the parties.

    Democrats are FAR from perfect. But any gay or gay ally who is voting Republican until gay marriage is legal in all 50 states needs his or her head examined.

    One party takes freedom and equality seriously. The other does not. And it's not up for debate which is which.

    Posted by: DK | Jan 23, 2014 12:55:40 PM

  12. We should stand prepared for a drawn-out fight. He has carefully indicated that the CURRENT ban is unconstitutional. You can be sure that some of our opposition will attempt to craft a ban that can pass judicial review. It is exactly what has happened with Roe v. Wade and all of the local restrictions championed by right-wingers.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Jan 23, 2014 3:13:15 PM

  13. Chuck is right. Lets not be fooled here...the state legislature is still anti-gay in Virginia. This is wonderful but we need to flip the state legislature in these purple/red states...flip them blue or at least towards socially liberal Republicans.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 23, 2014 4:37:04 PM

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