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UPDATE: AG Herring to side with gay couples in same-sex marriage fight

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring – the commonwealth's first attorney general elected from Loudoun County – will fight to allow same-sex marriage in Virginia, Mr. Herring announced at a press conference in Richmond this morning.

Elected this past November and after a weeks-long recount, Mr. Herring made gay marriage a key platform issue throughout his campaign against conservative and anti-gay marriage candidate Mark Obenshain.

"My decision today is not based on my policy preference for marriage rights for same-sex couples," Mr. Herring said at the press conference. "It is based on my thorough analysis of the applicable law and the constitutional questions raised by this case."

"As Virginians, we have much to be proud of," he said. "But too many times in our history our citizens have had to lead the way on civil rights, while their leaders stood against them. This will not be another instance. It's time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law."

Mr. Herring told the Times-Mirror last year he believes the gay marriage ban in Virginia goes against the U.S. Constitution, despite a 2006 vote supporting the gay marriage restriction in the commonwealth's constitution.

Similar to President Barack Obama, Mr. Herring said he's “evolved” on the issue.

The Democratic attorney general's announcement jolted and vexed the state's Republican leaders this morning.

Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said Mr. Herring should “resign” if “he doesn't want to do his job.”

"By running for the office, Mark Herring asked for the challenge of defending Virginia's Constitution and all it contains,” Mr. Mullins said in a prepared statement. “The subject matter is irrelevant. Virginia's constitutional amendment and its challenges were well known when Mark Herring spent millions of dollars fighting to become Virginia's attorney. Attorneys don't get to choose whether or not they will defend their clients. Indeed, lawyers have a duty to select their clients carefully, because they are ethically bound to represent the claims of their clients, good or bad."

Mr. Obenshain commented, “It is deeply inappropriate for the attorney general to use state resources to actively oppose a duly ratified constitutional amendment. Through this decision, Herring is effectively seeking to unilaterally reverse the actions of the General Assembly in adopting the Amendment, and the people of Virginia in ratifying it."

Virginia voters approved the same-sex marriage ban 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006, but a Quinnipiac University poll in July found that 50 percent of registered Virginia voters support same-sex marriage, while 43 percent oppose it, according to the Associated Press.

Two same-sex couples in Norfolk have challenged Virginia's same-sex marriage ban in federal court. Mr. Herring is expected to file a legal brief today to join the couples in the case, rather than siding with the commonwealth's prohibition.

The attorney general today repeatedly affirmed that he believes Virginia's gay-marriage ban goes against the U.S. Constitution, and that state law cannot trump federal law. It is a state attorney general's duty, Mr. Herring said, to uphold the U.S. Constitution every bit as much as state law.

Mr. Herring concluded, "I will fight to end this oppressive ban, and to guarantee the constitutional freedom for loving couples to marry in Virginia."

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


I wnder if Mark Herring would defend my right to be a Polygamist. Afterall, if I want to marry 2 women I should be protected under the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. Plus, all I want to be is happy, according to Herring, I should be able to marry anyone and whoever I want.

Human rights are inalienable. Voters may vote however they please. They may try to take inalienable rights away. They may stain the constitution with their animus. They may use electoral victories to disrespect and dehumanize. But in the long arc of history, the arc that bends towards justice [righteousness], they will lose.

So how does absence of discrimination give gays the special people a right to marry? You don’t have that right in Virginia cause over 1.3 million voters said you don’t.

Shorter Chris N: “I don’t always give back-handed compliments, but when I do I leave everyone mystified.”

stiflersmom, I feel your pain. But don’t even label these bigoted nut jobs “conservatives”. It’s insulting to REAL conservatives who know that part of being conservative means minding one’s own business. I know you never hear from them, but they’re out there. The GOP has been hijacked by whackos!

“It is the job of the Supreme Court to determine if their[sic] is a state law that is un [sic] constitutional, not that of the Virginia Attorney General.”

So the AG can enforce the state constitution on his own initiative, but to enforce the federal constitution, he needs a court order.

Got it.

Oh please save your feigned conservative outrage. Did anyone see liberals or moderates freaking out when AG Cuccinelli (arguably the most radical and extreme AG in recent history) refused to defend laws he saw as unconstitutional? Nope. The calls for impeachment are ridiculous that’ it is almost comical. Kind of hard to imagine Virginia being on the wrong side of history on this matter. The Marshall Newman amendment violates the VA & US constitution and it’s just that simple.

Chris N: Explain to us how denying liberties to people you don’t like is American or supportive of liberty? In addition, please explain how hate and judgement are Christian virtues? If you were a true believer you’d shut up and let God do the judging. Evidently, you’re not a believer and just can’t control spewing hate.

Yes, your bigoted views would fit well in Iran. The US system isn’t theocratic, but yours and Iran’s is. It is what it is and I’m simply reporting the facts as they are.

“Anybody else notice that Herring did not have the guts to bring this up on the campaign trail?  What a wimp! “

LOL! How is that being a wimp? None of you bigots in favor of denying liberty to gays would have voted for him anyway so, if anything, he may have lost votes by not mentioning it.

Thanks for posting more of the usual brainlessness of the fake libertarian, fake Christian, Tea Baggers.

Nice discourse @John Matthews. Referring to anybody who supports traditional marriage as “American, anti liberty, bigots” and suggesting that anybody who disagrees with you should “move to Iran.” Who would have thunk that the most thoughtful, respectful arguments on this page coming from your side have been from….David Weintraub?!

To Attorney General Herring:  Please tell me what other laws you are not going to enforce since you feel you can pick and choose.

Anybody else notice that Herring did not have the guts to bring this up on the campaign trail?  What a wimp!

More cowbell, how did you jump to illegal aliens? The reason they’re not shot here is that the business owners who hire them, luring them here, like them too much and enjoy the fact that the rest of us are subsidizing what should be THEIR employment expenses. Oh, and many of these employers are Republicans.

Back to the topic.

cm_res: I didn’t introduce the concept of anti-gay prejudice, the proponents of these measures did. When the SCOTUS overturned Section 3 of the federal “Defense of Marriage Act,” the ruling was in part based on evidence presented at trial that the law was motivated by animus. *You* may not harbor animus toward LGBT people; I don’t know you and I couldn’t say. But it is a finding of fact in the DOMA case, in the Prop 8 case in California, and in several others, that a desire to harm LGBT people was evident during the process of passing these laws. And that is a constitutional no-no.

Scrap my previous comment please:

“It’s not a matter of stripping liberties, it’s a matter of gutting social norms. Thousands and probably millions of gays have been married to opposite-sex partners, and they’ve always had that right, the same right as everybody else. “

LOL, you can’t be serious with this trip, can you? The liberty to marry the consenting adult of your choice is in question. Why would YOU FORCE someone to marry someone against their choice? Let me guess, you’re a “small gov’t” guy who wants the gov’t to enforce your liberty hating view on this?

LOL at protecting the “sanctity of marriage” among heterosexuals with the great 42% record.

Move to Iran if you’re that serious about your bigoted “social norms”.

“Actually, we do know that Herring voted for the amendment…”

No, and again, he said he voted to put it to a public referendum. Today (and in the debate) he says it’s not a proper government question. The story you cited says Herring, “voted for the constitutional amendment in 2006.” But, again, that wasn’t possible in 2006. The bill he voted for was not in favor of the amendment, but in favor of putting the amendment on the ballot in 2007. All 140 members voted to do that.

If you believe the 2006 GA vote reflected support for the amendment by every member of the GA, then you are saying that openly gay GA member Adam Ebbin also supported the amendment. I can confidently assure you that was not the case.

“Jeanne, I don’t believe anyone knows if Mark Herring voted for the amendment or against it, except Mark Herring.”

Actually, we do know that Herring voted for the amendment, because he said so during the first debate between the two nominees for the attorney general:

FTA:  “During the first debate between the two nominees for attorney general, Sen. Mark R. Herring a Loudoun Democrat, said he voted for the constitutional amendment in 2006 but has changed his views. “I don’t believe the state should decide who you can love and marry,” Herring said.”


It doesn’t matter what the will of anyone is regarding stripping liberties of people they don’t like.

It’s not a matter of stripping liberties, it’s a matter of gutting social norms. Thousands and probably millions of gays have been married to opposite-sex partners, and they’ve always had that right, the same right as everybody else.

What these folks want and are doing is changing the entire definition of traditional marriage. Virginia residents already debated and settled that question several years ago. But Mark Herring has, in effect, become a one-man wrecking ball against the will of the people. No liberties are up for stripping, he’s just manufacturing new ones.

@John Matthews, If this was Iran, a lot of illegals would be shot or in jail… As I stated before, I really don’t care whether gays can marry… However, Mark still comes off looking corrupt since it’s not priorty 1 in VA.

It’s amazing how many of the “small gov’t” advocates are first in line to have the gov’t involved in people’s personal business which is none of they’re damned business.

Since when is “Conservatism” about meddling in the personal affairs of others? Oh right, since the GOP was taken over by lunatics.

It doesn’t matter what the will of anyone is regarding stripping liberties of people they don’t like. That’s not how this country operates.

Move to Iran if you want a government like that.

Buh bye!

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