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Gay marriage key distinction in attorney general debate

Attorney General Mark Herring's refusal to defend Virginia's ban on gay marriage was his signature act during his four-year term. Now it's the key point of contention in his re-election campaign against Republican challenger John Adams.

At a debate Friday in Leesburg, Adams said it was dereliction of duty when Herring switched the state's legal position in a lawsuit challenging the ban once he took office in 2014. A federal judge who struck down Virginia's ban cited Herring's switch as a compelling factor in her analysis.

"That is an unbelievable position for a lawyer to take," Adams said. "He got on the other side and sued his own client."

Adams attributed Herring's decision to a political calculation, noting that Herring actually voted for the gay marriage ban a few years earlier when he was a state senator.

Herring, who received national attention when he announced his decision to oppose the gay-marriage ban in court, said his position was ultimately vindicated by the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down gay-marriage bans as unconstitutional.

Herring said he considered the fact that Virginia was on the wrong side of history in the civil rights era when the state argued to keep segregated schools, and didn't want to make the same mistake.

"It was the right thing to do," Herring said.

Adams also criticized Herring as beholden to labor unions and weak on defending Virginia's "right-to-work" law, which protects workers from being required to pay dues to the unions that represent them. He also cited a decision by the Republican-controlled Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to review Herring's office after reports that money collected in asset forfeiture cases provided pay raises to his staffers.

Herring said the commission's actions are simply "election season shenanigans."

Herring, in his opening statement, said Adams would not protect abortion rights and would oppose gun safety measures. He said Adams worked as a lawyer in private practice to weaken rules protecting coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

"John is fixated on conservative social issues," Herring said.

Adams countered that his personal beliefs are irrelevant, and that he would simply uphold the law. On the contraceptives issue, he said he simply wrote briefs in support of groups like Little Sisters of the Poor who don't want to pay for contraceptive coverage that violates their religious convictions. He said his argument was vindicated by the Supreme Court.

"I am running to get politics out of the attorney general's office," he said. "I'm not running to limit anybody's rights."

Herring, a former state senator from Loudoun County, is seeking a second term as attorney general. Adams, a former federal prosecutor and law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is making his first run for public office.

Friday's debate was sponsored by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.


well, if he didn’t follow the law, he only needs to call the White House.  We got a president who gives pardons to people who are supposed to enforce and respect the law and don’t…..like Sheriff Arpaio.

“Attorney General Mark Herring’s refusal to defend Virginia’s ban on gay marriage was his signature act during his four-year term.”

What a convenient misuse of words.

It wasn’t a “ban”, it was the law.

It should read, “Attorney General Mark Herring’s refusal to defend Virginia’s law against gay marriage was his signature act during his four-year term.”

That is a much more darning statement of Herring and proves that he is a politician first, and an attorney second (or third, or fourth).  Further demonstrating what a lying Democrat he is, he campaigned on getting politics out of the AG office.  Ba-ha-ha.  Hypocrite!

Herring has failed as an Attorney General and nobody should support him for his dereliction of duty.

What we know: FactsStillMatter can read Herring’s election talkingpoint newsletters, but doesn’t understand our government’s separation of powers.

I agree that facts still matter.  But I would propose that logic is just as important.

You see, I am blasted with Herring ads on TV talking about Obamacare.  But the Virginia AG has nothing to do with Obamacare.  He just enforces laws.  The legislature chooses whether to expand Medicare or not, not the AG.

Same with “bedroom issues” from FactsStillMatter.  The AG won’t have anything to do with that.  Vote for governor, senators and delegates on those issues.  But why are Herring and his surrogates trying to distract you with such issues?  Do they think you, the public, are so stupid that you won’t notice him confiscating property from citizens without even accusing them of a crime to hand over to his political cronies?  Does he think that is even constitutional, much less good policy, to force you to justify why you own your actual property else he gives out the loot at the office party?

If you want someone who applies the laws that have been passed rather than just making stuff up as he pleases, DON’T vote for Herring.

Well, let me weigh in from the other side of the political spectrum…  Mark Herring has been a very strong AG for Virginia and will surely continue if re-elected.

Herring has an even-handed track record that voters can examine and make up their minds.

Adams?  Who knows?  But you can infer that he’s yet another get-in-your-bedroom conservatives who profess to love individual freedom—just so long as we’re talking about their freedom to tell you how to live.

I would rather have an attorney that will carry out the wishes of the client then interject his own personal views into the client’s case.

I think this misses the point.  The question is what is the role of the Attorney General.  In our system of government, the legislature MAKES the laws.  The courts interpret the laws (if a law is unconstitutional, it can be struck down).  The executive, of which the AG is a part, enforces the laws including prosecuting crimes and initiating civil actions.

Better questions are:

1. Which AG candidate will confiscate property of citizens, without any legal proof of wrongdoing, and give it away to their staff as spoils while other state employees are left with little/no raises?  Herring continues to do this to the tune of $15K/yr raises for his staff while state police officers received almost no raises.

2. Which AG candidate will grandstand on national political issues like the travel restrictions instead of focusing on the needs of Virginia?  I’m pretty sure the ACLU and individual plaintiffs can handle such political suits without wasting the time/resources of our Virginia AG office regardless of your views on the subject.

Mark Herring seems very confused even though he supposedly is a lawyer.  He is talking about the Affordable Care Act and gun laws when the AG has no impact on such issues.  If you want to impact those policies, research state senators and delegates.  If any AG candidate thinks they are going to use their office to override valid laws, then we have problems.  Especially when you have no idea where that person actually stands (hypocrite Herring votes for gay marriage ban then fails to defend it as AG).

Herring is simply another example of how unethical so many in the legal profession are.  The reason why many of our courts and officials are so corrupt is that we vote for them even after we know they are corrupt.  Tell Herring we need somebody with honor in the AG’s office.

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