by JOE DELMONACO
A spokeswoman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring confirmed on Wednesday that the AG has concluded that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. As a result, the state of Virginia will no longer defend the ban in federal court. Instead, the AG’s office intends to file briefs in Norfolk on Thursday in support of a suit intended to overturn the ban brought by two couples to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Herring took office on January 11 succeeding Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli who lost his bid for governor of Virginia to Terry McAuliffe. During the election campaign, Cucinnelli had argued for re-instating Virginia’s sodomy law, which was effectively overturned by the US Supreme Court in 2003.
Virginia has now become the focus of the country-wide battle for equal marriage rights. In recent court rulings, federal judges struck down state marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma. On Wednesday, six couples filed suits in Florida to overturn that state’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.
On inauguration day, Virginia’s Gov. McAuliffe issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination against state employees who are gay.