US: Virginia House votes to hire lawyers to fight equal marriage, after Attorney General refuses

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The Virginia House of Delegates has voted to spend taxpayers’ money hiring private lawyers to fight against same-sex marriage, after the state’s Attorney General refused to.

Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring announced in January that he would not defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban, because he did not think it would stand up to a constitutional challenge.

The state’s marriage ban case is one of five currently pending before the US Supreme Court, which will meet on September 29 to discuss which of the cases to take up.


However, Republicans in the state’s House of Delegates this week passed a resolution by a vote of 65-32 calling for private lawyers to be hired to defend the ban.

The resolution, HR 566, calls for a private lawyer to replace Herring in the case, “to represent the position of the Commonwealth in pending litigation involving the challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage laws”.

It further claims: “Attorney General Herring acted without authority and in violation of the Constitution of Virginia and the laws of the Commonwealth when he failed to employ special counsel to defend those laws and submitted a position statement in the federal litigation challenging Virginia’s marriage laws, in which he asserted that those laws violate the United States Constitution.”

Mr Herring has called for the court to select the Virginia case first, saying: “I believe this case will prove compelling for the Court because of the stringent, discriminatory nature of Virginia’s marriage ban, the range of critical questions presented, the clear legal standing of the parties, and Virginia’s historic role in 1967’s Loving case ending bans on interracial marriage.

“Virginia got that case wrong. Now, we have a chance to get it right, and to help extend to all Americans the right to marry the person they love.”