The Washington Post

Bill aimed at defending Va. gay marriage ban clears House in mostly party-line vote

The Virginia House voted overwhelmingly Monday for a bill allowing legislators to hire their own lawyers to defend state laws if the attorney general will not, a measure aimed at protecting the state’s ban on gay marriage.

The Republican-dominated House voted 65-32 for the legislation, which would give the General Assembly the right to intervene in lawsuits challenging Virginia laws or the state Constitution if the attorney general opts not to do so.

The attorney general usually defends state laws or the constitution if it is challenged in court. But Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) announced last month that he would not defend the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, submitting a motion to side with two gay couples challenging it in federal court.

Herring said he cannot defend the gay marriage ban, adopted eight years ago with the support of 57 percent of voters, because he believes it violates the U.S. Constitution.

The vote fell mostly along party lines, with Democrat Del. Johnny S. Joannou (Portsmouth) joining Republicans to support the bill and Republican Thomas Davis Rust (Fairfax) voting against. There were two abstentions: Robert Dickinson Orrock Sr. (R-Caroline) and Barry D. Knight (R-Virginia Beach).

The bill now moves to the Senate, where Democrats are expected to kill it.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.