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.”