US Solicitor General who fought for equal marriage will stand down

The US Solicitor General who submitted the Obama administration’s brief in favour of equal marriage is standing down.

Donald B Verrilli has served as the federal government’s  lead attorney at the high court for five years, during which time he has overseen a number of high-profile cases.

The attorney was responsible for submitting the federal government’s brief in the Obergefell v. Hodges case at the Supreme Court, which settled the issue of same-sex marriage once-and-for-all.

With the support of the administration, the SCOTUS justices found 5-4 that same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected right under both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Verrilli, 58, will leave the administration on June 24, and will be replaced by his principal deputy, Ian Gershengorn.

It comes just six months before the end of the Obama administration, when many of the other figures influential in pioneering equality measures will also depart.

President Obama paid tribute to him, writing: “Thanks to his efforts, 20 million more Americans now know the security of quality, affordable health care; we’re combatting discrimination so that more women and minorities can own their piece of the American Dream; we’ve reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring that immigrants are treated fairly; and our children will now grow up in a country where everyone has the freedom to marry the person they love.

“Don has been a dedicated public servant who has helped our nation live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all. I am grateful for his trusted counsel and friendship.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: “Don Verrilli is a brilliant lawyer, a devoted public servant and one of the most consequential Solicitors General in American history.

“Since he began his service in the Obama Administration in February of 2009, Don has been at the center of the foremost legal challenges of our time, most notably through his arguments in a series of groundbreaking cases before the Supreme Court.

“He led the case against the Defense of Marriage Act and for the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of marriage equality, breaking down barriers that had divided us from one another and extending the reach of America’s promise. ”

“Through these and many other cases – and through his thoughtful counsel and principled advocacy – Don has built a legacy of inclusion, expanding opportunities and civil rights for all Americans and moving our country forward.

“I could not be more proud to call him a colleague and a friend. I thank him for his extraordinary service to the Department of Justice and to the nation and I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.”