Virginia's AG: I Won't Defend Ban on Gay Marriage

Herring says law is unconstitutional

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 23, 2014 7:44 AM CST

(Newser) – Virginia's brand new attorney general is wasting no time backing away from his controversial predecessor, telling NPR this morning that his office will no longer defend the state's ban on gay marriage. "As attorney general, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians' rights," said Mark Herring, who eked out a 165-vote victory in November. "The commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied." Herring's office said "a thorough legal review" had led him to conclude that "Virginia's current ban is in violation of the US constitution."

Herring, who campaigned on marriage equality in a state where half of registered voters now support it, will today file a brief in federal court to signal the state's new position, a spokesman tells the AP. NPR notes that one of the lawsuits against Virginia's ban, Bostic v. Rainey, is being argued by David Boies and Ted Olson—the legal team that took on California's Proposition 8. Many marriage equality advocates are hoping it goes all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Virginia Attorney General-elect Mark Herring smiles during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., in this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo.
Virginia Attorney General-elect Mark Herring smiles during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., in this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo.   (Steve Helber)
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