Herring takes bold move on gay marriage - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Herring takes bold move on gay marriage

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Deciding not to defend the ban on gay marriage was one thing, but Attorney General Mark Herring took the unprecedented step of saying he will join the case of two couples suing to strike the measure down in federal court.

It is a move that will have an enormous impact on the case that could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

Herring believes this issue is a personal one.

"These two couples want Virginia to recognize their love and commitment," he said.

Herring is talking about two same sex couples from Virginia, including a couple from Chesterfield, who are challenging Virginia's ban. The new Attorney General argues it is time for Virginia to be on the right side of history.

"The commonwealth of Virginia has too often argued on the wrong side of our nation's landmark supreme court cases," said Herring.

But political and legal analyst Paul Goldman- who agrees with Herring's take that Virginia's constitutional amendment violates the federal constitution, argues that by actually supporting those seeking to lift the ban, Herring is going about fighting it the wrong way.

"So he is really jumping sides in the middle of a case against his own client," Goldman said.

Virginia's former Attorney General- who was accused of being an activist himself- weighed in as well. Ken Cuccinelli said when he was faced with a similar situation in a different case; he simply stepped aside and did not "attack" the law as Herring is doing in this case.

But Herring- who has been on the job less than a month after a tough and tight election victory- believes his responsibility in this case is clear.

"My decision today is not based on my policy preference for marriage rights for same sex couples," he said. "It is based on my thorough analysis of the applicable law and the constitutional questions raised by this case."

It is a case that now begins the process of moving through the federal court system, with a big supporter on its side.

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