HRC Blog

Virginia Attorney General Ends Defense of State’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Virginia Attorney General Mark HerringIn an announcement today, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring will say that his office will join the growing consensus of opinion in arguing that the state ban on marriage for lesbian and gay couples should be overturned.  There are two cases in federal court challenging the Commonwealth’s marriage amendment and Herring is urging the courts to rule for the plaintiffs challenging that ban.  In doing so, Herring reversed the position of his predecessor, Ken Cucinelli, who had argued strenuously to maintain the ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

“Attorney General Herring joins the growing legal and public consensus that barriers to marriage for lesbian and gay couples do not protect anyone and only harm Virginia families," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “This courageous stand on behalf of the Commonwealth plants Virginia firmly on the right side of history."  

Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment barring marriage and other forms of relationship recognition for same-sex couples in 2006.  Earlier this year, same-sex couples filed two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of that ban in federal courts.  Bostic v. Rainey was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, and the couples are represented by Ted Olson and David Boies, the attorneys who, supported by American Foundation for Equal Rights, successfully challenged California's Proposition 8 all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  A second case, Harris v. McDonnell, was filed in the Western District of Virginia on behalf of same-sex couples by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union.   

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