US: Virginia Republicans urge appointment of lawyers to defence of same-sex marriage ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Republican politicians in the US state of Virginia have asked for legal counsel to be appointed in order to defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban, now that the Attorney General has said he will not.

Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring announced on Thursday that the state would instead side with same-sex couples who are seeking to have the ban struck down.

He said: “As attorney general, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights. The commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs who have brought this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied.”

A letter sent on Friday from Delegate Bob Marshall and 31 other Republican officials calls on Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to appoint legal counsel to defend it, in lieu of Mr Herring.

Despite strong calls for a defence to be put in place, Governor MaCuliffe did not respond other than to say he would evaluate the situation if the bill to over turn the state’s ban passed in the House.

Bob Marshall was one of those who helped draft the constitutional amendment passed in 2006, which banned gay couples from marrying.

A group of officials in the US state of Virginia earlier in January introduced the legislation to repeal the ban.

Openly gay State Senator Adam Ebbin was among those who introduced the legislation. It will not make it to voters for a ballot until at least 2016, as the bill has to pass two sessions in both houses in order to become public.