Virginia enters frontline in gay marriage issue

Just 12 days after democrat Mark Herring was sworn into office as Virginia's attorney General, he has set off a firestorm of controversy.

"We looked at the law and we looked at Supreme Court precedent and we concluded that the law is unconstitutional," said Herring.

"He has no authority to do this. He's attacking the Constitution of Virginia approved by the people of Virginia," said Republican Delegate Bob Marshall who sponsored the bill that asked voters to approve the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which they did. As a state senator, Herring voted for it.

"That was eight years and very shortly after that I saw how it hurt a lot of people," said Herring. He has filed a brief joining two same sex couples in Norfolk asking a federal court to strike it down.

Herring said his decision is based on recent Supreme Court cases protecting the right to marry, but also striking down laws that treat same sex couples as same sex couples.

He says the new court rulings have convinced him that the Supreme Court would strike down Virginia's law.

Bob Marshall says it is wrong for Herring to make conclude how the Supreme Court would rule. "Where the hell does Mark Herring come off saying you have no argument here. I' mean that's arrogant."

Marshall and other Republicans lawmakers say Herring is violating his oath of office by not upholding state law, especially one that voters approved.

But Herring points to past mistakes, Virginia's fight against desegregating our schools, against interracial marriage and against same-sex schools. This time, Herring says he wants Virginia to be on the right side of history.

"A State law in a state constitutional cannot violate the United State Constitution. I'm obligated to follow the law and that's what I've done," says Herring.

Voters approved Virginia's Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2006 with 57 percent voter approval. Many studies show a reversal of that sentiment.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine made the following statement after Attorney General Mark Herring's announcement:

"I applaud Attorney General Herring for taking an important step to challenge Virginia's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage today. As Governor, I opposed this discriminatory amendment and agree it's time for Virginia to be on the right side of history with respect to marriage rights."


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