Herring's First Move as Attorney General—Challenge Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Herring made his announcement Thursday.

Attorney General Mark Herring will use his office to support recognition of same-sex couples in Virginia. (Patch File Photo)
Attorney General Mark Herring will use his office to support recognition of same-sex couples in Virginia. (Patch File Photo)
By Greg Hambrick

If ever there was proof that elections have consequences, a long-held defense of the state's same-sex marriage ban in Virginia has shifted to the state supporting an effort to overturn the law.

Several media sites, including The Washington Post, have reported that Attorney General Mark Herring is joining two couples in an attempt to strike down the state's marriage ban in federal court.

“The Supreme Court is clear: The United States Constitution is the law of the land, the supreme law of the land,” Herring said at a press conference. “I believe the freedom to marry is a fundamental right and I intend to ensure that Virginia is on the right side of history and the right side of the law.”

Read more of The Washington Post report.

In 2006, voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that banned recognition of same-sex couples. In November, voters in the state narrowly elected Herring, as well as Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who supported recognition of same-sex couples on the campaign stump.

The state Republican Party was one of several conservative voices blasting Herring's decision Thursday.

"It took Mark Herring less than a month to decide he doesn't want to be Attorney General," said GOP Chairman Pat Mullins in a statement. "The first job of Virginia's Attorney General is to be the Commonwealth's law firm, and to defend the duly passed laws of the Commonwealth."

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization based in D.C., celebrated Herring's decision.

“Attorney General Herring joins the growing legal and public consensus that barriers to marriage for lesbian and gay couples do not protect anyone and only harm Virginia families," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “This courageous stand on behalf of the Commonwealth plants Virginia firmly on the right side of history."  

What do you think? Is it time to end the state's same-sex marriage ban? Tell us in the comments.


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