Virginia’s new attorney general has decided to switch sides in an important case that is challenging the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.
In an interview with Morning Edition‘s Steve Inskeep, Democrat Mark Herring said his office will no longer defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.
“As attorney general, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights,” Herring said. “The commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied.”
Herring was sworn in just days ago after , an election that also ushered in Democrat Terry McAuliffe to the governor’s mansion. Herring is taking over for Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican who ran and lost a bid for governor on a Tea Party platform and was a staunch defender of the gay-marriage ban.
Herring said as he came into office, he asked his staff to review Bostic v. Rainey and, after careful consideration, he came to the conclusion that the ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
Expect the howls of outrage and the sadz from the usual suspects.
As Mr. Herring notes in the interview, Virginia has been in the battle over marriage equality before. In 1967, the state was on the losing side of Loving v. Virginia, the case that put an end to bans on interracial marriage. The Supreme Court declared that marriage is a fundamental right and that to deny it to couples based on their race was a violation of the Constitution. At the time, the losers were certain that allowing interracial couples to get married would destroy traditional marriage and make a mockery of the institution. Sound familiar?