RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Supporters of gay marriage are celebrating a major victory tonight. President Barack Obama has instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The law gave states the right to ignore marriages and civil unions between same sex couples from other states. Even though it will no longer be challenged, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli claims it won't impact gay marriage in Virginia.
Currently only a handful of states recognize marriages or civil- unions between people of the same sex.
Under the provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act those relationships have no legal standing anywhere but in the state where they took place.
President Obama determined that those provisions could not be defended in the constitution.
"The president's position on the Defense of Marriage Act has been consistent,' said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "He has long opposed it as unnecessary and unfair".
A stance, many Republicans strongly disagree with. That includes Henrico Congressman Eric Cantor who claimed the president is ignoring a law passed by the people.
His office said today that the majority leader is quote "disturbed by today's move by the White House to skirt our legal system."
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, an opponent of same sex marriage, wasn't surprised by the White House's move.
"It's consistent with a position he has advertised for a long time," said Cuccinelli. "I try not to be surprised by consistency."
And because the new policy effectively takes the feds out of the gay marriage debate, he believes it won't change things here.
"It shouldn't really," he said. "I mean that's how it's going to be treated at the federal level so it shouldn't effect what we are doing in Virginia."
Meaning gay marriage is no closer to being a reality in the Commonwealth.
Currently Virginia has some of the strictest laws in the country when it comes to same-sex marriage.
The state constitution prohibits marriage and other forms of same sex unions.