Newly-minted Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said he will not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriages after concluding it was unconstitutional.
“As attorney general, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights,” Herring said in an interview with NPR airing Thursday. “The commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied.”
The attorney general told NPR he asked his office to review the lawsuit challenging the Virginia ban, and decided the ban violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. His office is expected to join the plaintiffs in that case next week.
Herring voted against marriage equality as a member of the Virginia state Senate, but said he has since come to “see the issue differently.” Now, he told NPR he wants the state to be on the right side of history on the issue.
“There have been times in some key landmark cases where Virginia was on the wrong side, was on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the law,” he said. “And as attorney general, I’m going to make sure that the [people] presenting the state’s legal position on behalf of the people of Virginia are on the right side of history and on the right side of the law.”
Virginia is considered a critical battleground in the nationwide fight to grant same-sex couples the right to wed.