The fight over same-sex marriage in Virginia reaches a federal courtroom in Norfolk on Tuesday.
On the eve of a key hearing, Republican lawmakers in the House of Delegates condemned the actions of the state’s new Attorney General, Mark Herring. And they argued for the power to do what the Attorney General has refused.
When Mark Herring announced he would not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in federal court, he set off a firestorm of protest from conservative Republicans who support the amendment to the state constitution Virginia voters ratified in 2006.
“I’m sorry we are experiencing a moment in our history where our Governor and Attorney General have abandoned our constitution, but that’s where we find ourselves,” said Delegate Todd Gilbert, (R) 15th District/Woodstock.
Republicans in the House of Delegates argued for legislation that would give them the authority to intervene when the Attorney General and governor decline to defend a state law, or provision of the constitution.
We are here to defend the people of the Commonwealth, the people who voted for the marriage amendment should not be left without defense,” said Delegate Bob Marshall/(R ) 13th District Manassas.
Democrats countered that other attorneys general have declined to defend state laws. The legislation, they argued, isn’t about the responsibilities of the state’s top elected leaders.
“No this is about same-sex marriage and the attorney general’s efforts to assist citizens who are seeking to marry the persons that they love,” said Delegate /(D) 57th District Charlottesville.
The vote in the House fell along party lines, and the House approved the bill. But it faces an uncertain future in the State Senate, where Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam holds the tie-breaking vote.
Attorney General Herring is expected to attend the arguments Tuesday morning in federal court. WDBJ7’s Joe Dashiell will be there as well.