Va. Lawmakers: Attorney General Out of Line


Virginia's Republican lawmakers are blasting the new state attorney general for his decision not to defend Virginia's marriage law.

Attorney General Mark Herring filed suit last week to strike down the Virginia constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

But Virginia state Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah Co., says Herring is violating his sworn duty and the will of the people.

"The attorney general's decision to refuse to enforce a duly-adopted provision of the Virginia Constitution is frightening -- no matter where you stand on the issue of marriage," Gilbert said.

In this week's Virginia GOP Address, Gilbert said Herring's decision shows "contempt" for "legislative and Democratic processes."

"The attorney general does not have the authority to unilaterally make that decision for the people. And he unequivocally should not be using taxpayer resources to fight against a law that the voters adopted by an overwhelming majority," he said.

The duty of Virginia's attorney general is to "defend the constitutionality of state laws when they are challenged in court," as stated on that website for that state position.

Now Gilbert has introduced a House Bill 706 which would give members of the state legislature the legal standing to defend a law in court if the attorney general refuses to do his job.

Meanwhile, Republican state Sen. Richard Black compared Herring's action to fight Virginia law instead of defending it to that of "a dictatorship." 

"It's extremely disappointing to me because in state after state, people have voted to define marriage as one man and one woman, and the courts and the gay rights movement have jointly devised this strategy to cut the public out of the process," Black told The Washington Post.

"And what you see is Democrat attorneys general refuse to defend the law and the courts very cynically denying anyone else the right to defend it," he said.

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