Local Politics: Herring announces support to lift same-sex marriage ban
BY STEPHANIE TIPPLE
Newly inaugurated Attorney General of Virginia, Mark Herring, asked a federal court to reconsider the ban of same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He argued that the ban was “unconstitutional and oppressive,” according to the New York Times.
The constitutional ban that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, titled the Marshall-Newman Amendment, was passed by the Virginia General Assembly and ratified by 57 percent of voters in 2006.
Herring originally voted for the legislation when he was a state senator, but acknowledged that he changed his mind when he thought of it in a personal way.
“I wouldn’t want the state telling my son or daughter who they could marry,” he said.
Herring said that he believes the ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
“I swore an oath to both the United States Constitution and the Virginia Constitution. After thorough legal review, I have now concluded that Virginia’s ban on marriage between same sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on two grounds,” said Herring. “Marriage is a fundamental right being denied to some Virginians, and the ban unlawfully discriminates on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender.”
Herring made the statement before oral arguments about same-sex marriage in the federal court this past week. Two couples are suing to remove the restrictive law, and the judge said she will make a quick judgment on the case.
“Virginia has argued on the wrong side of some of our nation’s landmark cases—in school desegregation in 1954, on interracial marriage with the 1967 Loving decision, and in 1996 on state-supported single-gender education at [Virginia Military Institute]. It’s time for the Commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law,” said Herring.
Herring received backlash from opponents of legalizing same-sex marriage, stating that he is going against his duty as an attorney general by not upholding the law as it stands.
This announcement could place the Commonwealth of Virginia as the second state in the south to allow same-sex marriage after Maryland.