Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced on January 23, 2014 that he believed the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and that Virginia would join two same-sex couples in asking a federal court to strike it down.
Herring’s predecessor, Republican Ken Cuccinelli II, adamantly opposed gay marriage and had vowed to defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment banning such unions, which was passed in 2006 with the support of 57 percent of voters.
Herring admitted that Virginia had been on the “wrong side” of landmark legal battles involving school desegregation, interracial marriage and single-sex education at the Virginia Military Institute. This time, he said, the commonwealth should be on the “right side of the law and history” in the battle over same-sex marriage:
After thorough legal review, I have now concluded that Virginia’s ban on marriage between same sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on two grounds: marriage is a fundamental right being denied to some Virginians, and the ban unlawfully discriminates on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender.”