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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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joe brewer January 23, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Didn't we just get rid of a AG who went on crusades? Moreover isn't the AG's job to enforce the law. He voted for the ban and now he says his thinking has evolved but Mitt Romney was a flippy flopper? The apparatus that we have in Virginia is now not good enough to pass laws so Mark decides to legislate it. Recall/impeach, but get this tool out of office!
Bob January 24, 2014 at 07:51 AM
I am really concerned about the priorities of our new Blue state. Why in the world would the AG want to deal with Gay marriage over dealing with the Gun issue? or the Crime issue? The answer in my view is that all these guys want to do is grab headlines and ignore any real and hard work. They need to headlines like a crack addict needs crack - they need a fix every day to support their enormous ego. All the while some unstable yahoo is probably gathering guns and planning and attack as we speak.... With the previous AG he at least did the hard work....This is going to be a sad few years in VA as the current administration turns us into California where debt and crisis reign supreme.
Keith Bolcar January 24, 2014 at 09:35 AM
Welcome to the new Virginia. Those who elected this dimwit will cheer as he ignores real issues for this liberal agenda nonsense. We face significant problems across the Commonwealth, and this guy focuses on a checklist of talking points straight from MSNBC. Hold on folks, it's gonna be a long four years. I lived in California right about the time it started to implode from "progressive" policies which have since bankrupted the once prosperous state. Let's not make the same mistakes here. But, as they say, we get the government we deserve. Congratulations Virginia.
Robin Palyo Handy January 25, 2014 at 04:45 PM
I'm cheering and if that makes me a dimwit, so be it. All Virginians having the same basic rights should be one of our top priorities. It was a campaign promise and I'm happy he's wasted no time keeping it. **waving rainbow-colored pom-poms**
joe brewer January 25, 2014 at 05:20 PM
Moral disapproval aside is the job of the Supreme Court to decide which laws are constitutional? If so is it the Attorney General's job to make sure the laws are followed in the state? It was a 57% majority of voters that approved the marriage ban to be between one woman and one man. If you have the votes to change it and it appears that there are enough voters to do so, then you do it with a vote not some legal maneuvering especially by a elected official who benefited in his re-election bid for the Senate before he became AG.
Keith Bolcar January 26, 2014 at 08:45 AM
Congrats Robin. Thanks for weighing in. Let's keep those liberal talking points coming!
DRB February 05, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Robin, What rights do gays not have? If you are referring to marriage than you are wrong. Anyone wishing to marry can marry as long as you follow the law. Do you support pedophiles marring their victims? After all "All Virginians having the same basic rights should be one of our top priorities."

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