Virginia GOP Calls on Governor Terry McAuliffe to Defend State’s Ban on Gay Marriage

After Attorney General Mark Herring's declaration this week that Virginia's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, dozens of Republican lawmakers have sent a letter to Governor Terry McAuliffe calling on him to defend it, the Washington Post reports:

Mcauliffe“Our attorney just quit on us,” said C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), one of 32 delegates who signed the letter. “I guess we need someone to stand up for us in court.”

The move put new pressure on McAuliffe (D) to involve himself with Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s decision Thursday to bow out of defending the ban. Herring’s decision was applauded in some quarters as a historic stand for civil liberties, and by others as a devious end run around the will of Virginia legislators and voters.

Although McAuliffe was an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage during the campaign, a spokesman on Friday stuck with the hands-off posture the governor took when Herring (D) announced his plans, saying the governor had been out of the office all day and may not have seen the lawmakers’ request.

Every one of the delegates signing the letter, except for Johnny S. Joannou of Portsmouth, is Republican.

Watch Herring make his announcement HERE, if you missed it.


  1. john patrick says

    Sounds like those Republicants have nothing better to do with their time than try to interfere with other people’s relationships. They were doing that under the last governor and Attorney General. They just can’t stop interfering. Maybe it’s how they try to take the spotlight off their own behaviors.

  2. john patrick says

    Quite true, Disgusted American. And they are telling women to control their libidos. And sticking their noses into the most intimate lives of people. What a creepy party!

  3. Peter says

    These are the people of “less government”, the people who wrap themselves in the flag. These same people also use the Bible as a weapon picking out the parts that suit their purpose.

  4. Ready says

    I’m so sick of the “will of the voters” argument. The whole point of our Constitution is to protect individual rights and prohibit the majority from denying rights to citizens that don’t conform.

  5. Lymis says

    Well, they’re certainly consistent.

    What part of, “You lost the election, which means you no longer get to have everything your way just because you stomp your feet” isn’t clear.

    Because they were oh, so receptive to demands from Democrats when they were in charge. Let’s talk mandatory ultrasounds.

  6. JJ says

    @Jamal49, I don’t think so, based on what I’ve read in other cases, but I’m not a lawyer. This is my understanding (from a comment I posted yesterday)…

    The couples harmed by the marriage ban are also the AG’s constituents. His duty is to defend the public interests of the state but those interests are divided, and the laws protecting those interests are in conflict. In this case, the marriage ban was duly enacted, but then so was Virginia’s liberty clause, and so was the 14th Amendment. Hence, the AG must weigh the interests that are in conflict and decide what takes precedence. He’s not required to mindlessly defend whatever law is under attack, all others be damned.

    This case is pretty easy to weigh: enforcement of the marriage ban harms many Virginians. Non-enforcement of the ban harms no one. As for the right of Virginia voters to enact laws, the right to vote is not the right to vote for voting’s sake, and it’s not the right to impose one’s will on others. It’s the right to have a say in one’s _own_ liberty and safety. No one has a right to defense of a vote that was not cast in the defense of one’s own liberty or safety. The AG’s failure to defend the bare will of the people does not in and of itself infringe anyone’s rights. Thus, the proper role of the AG in this case–the role that best defends the interests of the whole public–is to defend those harmed by the marriage ban.

  7. says

    @Jamal49: The ban must be enforced, as long as it’s the law, but there is ample precedent for Attorneys General not defending a law they believe is unconstitutional. (Some of the complainers mix up the meanings of “enforce” and “defend.”)

    For instance, California did not defend Prop 8; Obama’s DOJ did not ultimately defend DOMA in the Windsor case. Other state AG’s are refusing to defend their bans–and NV’s AG is “reconsidering.” Some have criticized him for not defending VA’s constitution, but in his office’s assessment, not defending discrimination is defending the constitution, particularly in light of recent marriage decisions.

    It still has to go through the court process. Presumably, someone else could step in to defend it, but it seems unlikely it would be McAuliffe, since he’d be contradicting his AG. Too bad poor Cooch is out of office–he’d be foaming at the mouth to have the opportunity to display his homosexuality obsession once again.

  8. Scott says

    I propose that the Governer proceed to defend the unconsitutional by hiring a very expensive law firm with the understanding that IF they loose the case at the Supreme Court, that the funds used to pay for it come from the Republican Reelection Campaign funds. If they win, then the Dems cover the cost.

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