Va. GOP Outraged Over AG's Refusal to Defend Gay Marriage Ban

Friday, 24 Jan 2014 01:58 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Republicans in Virginia are considering their actions after the announcement by Attorney General Mark Herring that he will not support the gay marriage ban in the Old Dominion state and will instead side with the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the law.

Herring said he considered the ban against gay marriage unconstitutional and could not defend it. He said he had joined a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples, The Washington Post reported.

Republican legislators hope to preserve the ban even if the state's attorney general won't. Some are looking at taking legal action against Herring for the possible misuse of his office, the Post reported.

"I don't know what the difference between a dictatorship and this is," said state Sen. Richard Black.

The state's ban against gay marriage was passed in 2006 with 57 percent of the vote, and Republicans are saying that Herring is going against the will of the people by joining a lawsuit against the ban — which Herring himself voted for.

"It's extremely disappointing to me because in state after state, people have voted to define marriage as one man and one woman, and the courts and the gay rights movement have jointly devised this process," Black said, the Post reported. "And what you see is Democrat attorneys' general refuse to defend the law and the courts very cynically denying anyone else the right to defend it."

Some Republicans are calling Herring a hypocrite who criticized the former attorney general and Republican candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, for fighting a school takeover that he considered unconstitutional. Cuccinelli would not defend the state laws in that case.

"Remember how Mark Herring said he wasn't going to be an activist attorney general: 'It's time to take politics out of the office?'" said Garren Shipley, spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party. "Funny how that worked out, isn't it?"

In Cuccinelli's situation, he hired an outside counsel to defend the state's position.

"I have always understood that it was the attorney general's job to defend state laws and the constitution, not to spend taxpayer money attacking them," Cuccinelli said in reaction to Herring's announcement. "It's rare enough for an attorney general to encounter a situation where he believes he shouldn't defend some provision of Virginia law, but the proper step at that point is to simply stand aside and arrange for a lawyer outside the AG's office who will defend the law."

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