Virginia Gov. Won't Defend Marriage Ban in Court

Virginia Gov. Won't Defend Marriage Ban in Court

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe says the state will not appoint outside counsel to defend Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage in federal court this Thursday.

Two gay couples are suing the state in an attempt to dismantle the ban. In Monday letter to Robert G. Marshall, a member of Virginia's House of Delegates and a staunch opponent of LGBT rights, McAuliffe said he would not appoint special counsel to defend the ban, as Republican state lawmakers have asked, The Washington Post reports. Last week the new state attorney general, Mark Herring, said he would not defend the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in federal court because he said he believes the ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. After Herring's announcement, Marshall gathered signatures from several GOP delegates, asking McAuliffe to hire a special prosecutor.

“I share your view that the effective administration of our legal system requires zealous advocacy on all matters before the courts,” McAuliffe wrote, according to the Post. “In the present case, Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is being vigorously and appropriately defended by the Clerk of Court for the City of Norfolk and the Clerk of Court for Prince William County [as well as other parties]. Accordingly, I respectfully decline to appoint special counsel in this matter.”

The antigay Alliance Defending Freedom filed a report with the court Monday, indicating that it will defend Prince William County circuit court clerk Michèle McQuigg in the lawsuit, according to the Washington Blade. Attorneys from former governor Bob McDonnell's law firm will represent Norfolk circuit court clerk George Schaefer.

The case is being heard in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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