RICHMOND, VA, January 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Only weeks after taking his oath of office, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is already violating it by opposing the state's amendment keeping marriage between a man and a woman, say critics.
“As a legislator, Herring supported this Constitutional Amendment. Now, as Attorney General, he is using the power of his office to actively oppose it,” Eve Marie Barner Gleason, a member of the Virginia Republic State Central Committee, told LifeSiteNews. “This is exactly backwards. As a legislator, he was free to oppose the amendment, but as Attorney General, he is bound by his honor and oath of office to defend it.”
Herring, who voted to prevent same-sex “marriage” from becoming legal in 2006, told Politico that his position has changed and “as attorney general I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights.”
According to Politico, Herring said he has pledged “to put the law and put Virginians first. … It’s about what the law requires here, and we have concluded, I have concluded, that the law here is unconstitutional, and I think the Supreme Court … would find the law unconstitutional.”
The amendment in question was voted into the state constitution in 2006 with a strong majority of state voters. Herring's oath of office declares he will “support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me.” The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether bans on same-sex “marriage” are unconstitutional.
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The decision is drawing criticism from multiple corners. TheBlaze reports a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia has said the decision is worthy of impeachment and recall. The National Organization for Marriage has already called for Herring to be impeached.
Herring promised to uphold the law despite his personal views on homosexual relationships in his 2013 campaign for Attorney General, TheBlaze reports. He won the election by only 907 votes out of over two million cast.
Herring is not the first Democratic Attorney General to refuse to defend a law establishing true marriage. Most famously, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and California declined to defend Proposition 8. DOMA was signed into law in a bipartisan manner in 1993 by Democratic President Bill Clinton, and Proposition 8 was added to the California constitution by a majority of state voters.
Two Democratic Attorneys General, in Arkansas and North Carolina, have said they will defend their state marriage laws despite their personal support for same-sex “marriage”, according to statements made to The Daily Beast.
Longtime Virginia political activist Spencer Chretien, a senior at the College of William and Mary, told LifeSiteNews.com that Herring's actions “[set] a troubling precedent.”
“Mark Herring was elected to uphold and defend Virginia's constitution,” Chretien said in an e-mail. “The job of the Attorney General is not to cave to political pressure. … Regardless of whether you support gay marriage.”
Herring's position stands in contrast to his predecessor's, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was a strong defender of pro-life and pro-family values.
Herring's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding the potential implications of his decision to not defend his state's laws.