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Conservatives inflamed by Herring’s same-sex marriage declaration

Twelve days after being sworn in as Virginia's attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring galvanized Virginia politicians and activists last week by shifting the commonwealth's position on a historic lawsuit filed by a gay couple in Norfolk.

During a Jan. 23 press conference in Richmond, Mr. Herring declared he would not defend the commonwealth's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, a radical shift from Mr. Herring's predecessor's position and prime fodder for conservatives preaching rule of law and the social fabric of our society.

With the attorney general's decision, Virginia's legal position in the prominent gay marriage case, Bostic v. Rainey, sides the commonwealth with the plaintiffs as opposed to the state's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Mr. Herring, the first elected attorney general from Loudoun County, said his decision “is not based on [his] policy preference for marriage rights for same-sex couples.”

The same-sex marriage ban is out of line with the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Herring said.

“It is based on my thorough analysis of the applicable law and the constitutional questions raised by this case,” Mr. Herring said. "As Virginians, we have much to be proud of. 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."

While liberals and Democrats rallied around the attorney general's declaration, Mr. Herring's justification did little to calm the rumpus from Republicans and traditional marriage advocates.

Loudoun County Republican activist Patricia Phillips, who contested Mr. Herring in his 2011 state Senate race, questioned why the Democratic attorney general vacated the General Assembly.

“That's where laws are made,” Ms. Phillips said.

Speaking to whether she viewed same-sex marriage in the same civil rights vein as integrated school and inter-racial marriage – comparisons used by Mr. Herring – Ms. Phillips said she doesn't believe the comparisons are apt.

“You can't hide your skin color,” she said.

State Del. Bob Marshall, an outspoken Christian conservative from Northern Virginia, said Mr. Herring “sprung this, like a Pearl Harbor attack, on the people of Virginia.”

Speaking on WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show, Mr. Marshall, similar to Ms. Phillips, dismissed any claims that a ban on gay marriage is equivalent to past prohibitions like integrated schools or inter-racial marriage.

“[Herring's stance] is to attack and undermine the most fundamental relationship between human beings that comes directly from the creator and ought to be protected by the laws of man,” Mr. Marshall said, adding the “bisexuals have to have at least one of each to be satisfied.”

The Northern Virginia delegate promised to fight the attorney general's legal standing and “put Mark Herring back in his constitutional place.”

“Republicans, for years now, have been wanting to duck all these social issues,” Mr. Marshall said. “And their refusal to face up to this and say, 'no I want to talk about economic issues, but he wants to talk about social issues,' [Republicans'] refusal to frame the issue in terms that people understand the common good, as marriage is most essentially beneficial to the common good … ”

Mr. Herring, for his part, has been unflinching in his view the same-sex marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

An attorney general's duty, Mr. Herring said, is not only to defend both state and federal law, but also to fight against laws he or she believes to be unconstitutional.

Virginia voters approved the same-sex marriage ban 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006, yet 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.

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

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


John Matthews—How many times on how many discussion threads are you going to post the same two things: Any man who supports traditional marriage must be secretly gay (I’ve never understood that one, but it’s hardly original.) And anybody whose religious views influence their social principles should move to Iran? (About the same level of originality.)

Come on John, mix it up a bit!

Fred Sanford, we don’t vote to refuse liberties to people we don’t like in this country.

Try Iran if you want to live in a theocratic dictatorship.

LOL @ all the closet gay “conservative” men posting here.

Liberals can call it a Ban all they want, but nothing in the law is banning anybody from getting married. The law simply defines what constitutes a legitimate marriage and it was approved by a MAJORITY of Virginians.

If the state didn’t define marriage, every yahoo would come up with some arrangement to claim their relationship is a marriage.

truthsayer, please share with us your “easy” arguments. I’m sure that counsel for the parties preparing to defend the Marshall-Newman amendment in federal court would appreciate your help.

truthsayer = public advocate writer? Strange obsession w/sex. No mention of love.

If Bob Marshall gets apoplectic over some action or someone;  then someone is doing something right. 

Cry me a river Bob, there goes your legacy legislation.  Time for you to go back to the stone age.

LOL @ all the fake “Christian” “Conservatives” who hate liberty and just can’t seem mind their own business regarding “issues” that don’t concern them or have any affect on their lives.

Our system isn’t a theocratic dictatorship. Iran’s is, so maybe you should consider relocation. OH WAIT! Then YOU will per persecuted for YOUR beliefs.

Oh well, time to get over it and get a life free from meddling in the personal affairs of others.

Maybe it’s the wives of “conservative” men who are worried the most. Their husbands might all move from airport men’s rooms, a la Larry Craig, and leave their wives to run off with the pool boy! LOL

So now the Attorney General of Virginia has mounted his high horse and has self-righteously declared that he will fight against Virginia’s commonsense ban on same-sex marriage.  Apparently some people haven’t learned from the past. In a way, weren’t we here a couple thousand years ago??? The ancient and primitive Greeks and Romans crassly valued homosexual relations. But eventually the people wised up and realized that was a mistake, and homosexual activity was again deemed unethical and was basically driven underground.
    Now, misguided “progressives” are trying to take us back thousands of years to more primitive and decadent times, despite the fact that thinking people have known for centuries that homosexual activity is immoral and a bad legal precedent. (It’s easy to show that all the arguments homosexuals use to try to rationalize homosexual activity are seriously flawed.)
    It may come as a surprise to you that some colleges like Harvard now have officially recognized student groups devoted to promoting the acceptance of BDSM—-sexually deviant bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism. That’s right. If you are a student who gets turned on by smacking people around, some colleges like Harvard now have groups for you! Bizarre.  (Are Neanderthals running that school?)
    He who has eyes to see, let them see. The “logic” of heterophobic homosexuals is rapidly leading this society down a slippery slope to a more and more aberrant, disordered, and irrational society. Polygamy is coming soon. Maybe down the line we’ll see “marriage” between straight and homosexual consenting-adult incestuous people! Whoopee! Anyone who thinks this is progress is deluding him/herself. Rome didn’t fall in a day. But it did fall. Hopefully Virginia won’t join this race to the bottom.

Thats’s rich coming from Phillips, who actually used men depicted in USSR uniforms on not one but two campaign mailers for her failed political race. Bless her heart.

And now Bob Marshall. he’s vitriol is exhausting. Even in this story, Marshall espouses a secular religious ideology. What he fails to realize is our beloved Commonwealth has citizenry who are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Shikism, Hinduism, Atheist.

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