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Virginia Attorney-General does about-face on same-sex marriages

It was reported on Friday that newly-elected Attorney General Mark Herring (D) had caused quite a commotion with GOP lawmakers when he announced on Thursday he was joining a lawsuit to strike down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages.

Herring's announcement has put Virginia right in the heart of the gay marriage debate.
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I wouldn’t want the state telling my son or my daughter who they can and cannot marry,” Herring said on Thursday when asked what had changed his mind since his 2006 vote in support of the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

“I saw how that vote hurt a lot of people. It was painful for a lot of people,” Herring said. “I continued to think about it. Just like Americans everywhere continue to think about this issue.”

On Thursday, Herring filed a brief with the federal court in Norfolk, amending Virginia's position in the case of Bostic v. Rainey, a challenge to Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. At the same time, Republican lawmakers immediately proceeded to work on ways to block Herrings efforts.

Virginia House of Delegates William Howell (R- Stafford), in a statement said, “Less than two weeks ago, Mark Herring took an oath and swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of Virginia. I am very concerned about his announcement today and the dangerous precedent it sets with regard to the rule of law,”

At a press conference on Thursday, Herring pointed out that his duty, first and foremost, was to uphold the Constitution of the United States, concluding by saying,

“The Supreme Court is clear: The United States Constitution is the law of the land, the supreme law of the land. I believe the freedom to marry is a fundamental right, and I intend to ensure that Virginia is on the right side of history and the right side of the law.”

Herring's announcement is critical to national politics because Virginia is a crucial battleground state, and same-sex marriage has already been struck down by federal judges in two states.

In 2006, 57 percent of Virginia voters upheld a ban on same-sex marriage, but there has been a shift in the polls, with more people supporting same-sex unions. But none the less, the announcement has created a renewed discussion from opponents and supporters.