State Republican chairman Pat Mullins said Herring should resign if he doesn’t want to do his duty. And GOP state Delegate Todd Gilbert proposed a bill that would allow legislators to intervene in lawsuits and defend state laws when the attorney general refuses to do so.
It is not the first time an attorney general has decided to stop defending a state’s gay marriage ban. In Pennsylvania, Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane did so last year, and an outside law firm has been hired by the state to defend the ban.
Virginia voters approved their state’s ban 57 percent to 43 percent. But a Quinnipiac University poll in July found that 50 percent of registered Virginia voters support same-sex marriage, while 43 percent oppose it. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Opponents of the state’s ban say the issue resonates in Virginia in particular because of a landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Virginia couple and interracial marriage.
Mildred and Richard Loving were married in Washington, D.C., and were living in Virginia when police raided their home in 1958 and charged them with violating the state’s Racial Integrity law. They were convicted but prevailed before the Supreme Court.