Delegates Question Legal Authority
Thu January 23, 2014
Shifting Legal Position
He hasn't been on the job for two full weeks, and Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring is already shaking things up.
While he doesn’t surprise anyone by sticking to his campaign pledge of fighting for marriage equality, he does strike a chord on all sides by saying that Virginia's legal position has shifted.
Herring says he will use his office's resources to join a lawsuit challenging the state Constitution’s provision that upholds traditional marriage.
Herring shrugs off the notion that this is unheard of coming from a Southern state Attorney General. While reaction has been swift as some members of the GOP call for his resignation for opposing state law, Herring makes no apology for it. Instead he apologizes for supporting a ban on same-sex marriage in the first place as a state Senator.
"Back in 2006 after that vote, I saw how that vote hurt a lot of people, and it was painful for a lot of people," said Herring.
Conservative Delegate Bob Marshall says Herring has no legal authority to do this, and he took an oath to uphold the state Constitution. "It's one thing if he has conscience problem, he's supposed to delegate this defense to somebody else, but he is aggressively, overtly, and intentionally attacking a constitutional provision that the people of Virginia approved."
Herring says he's not sure if he will personally attend next week's scheduled federal court proceedings in Norfolk, where a same-sex couple is suing the state to overturn the gay marriage ban. He does say that the law will remain in effect until the courts, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court, rule on it.