I listened to Virginia’s Attorney General this morning as he explained why he would not be pursuing defense of the state’s ban on Gay marriage. It was refreshing to hear a logical, fact based, explanation of someone’s perspective on marriage equality. Actually, Herring’s explanation didn’t give me a definitive understanding of his support of marriage equality, just that he did not believe it was appropriate for him, as the Attorney General, to fight marriage equality in the state of Virginia. In an excerpt from a New York Times article Herring’s position was characterized as:
At a news conference in Richmond, Mr. Herring said the ban violated the 14th Amendment right to due process and equal protection, an argument that has been the basis of successful legal challenges to same-sex marriage prohibitions in other states.
“I cannot and will not defend a law that violates Virginians’ fundamental constitutional rights,” Mr. Herring said. To do so, he said, “would be a violation of the law and my oath.”
As the day progressed I heard a variety of reports on Herring’s announcement. What struck me as an alarming revelation was how much of the commentary simply repeated rhetorical positions on marriage equality. Very little was said about the legal arguments underlying Herring’s position.
There seems to be something very wrong when an Attorney General’s obligation to the people he represents, the laws he is obligated to uphold, and the oath of office he has taken is secondary to the political positions of various special interest groups.