Herring files brief in Supreme Court marriage cases


Source - Washington Blade

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on Thursday filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Herring in the 43-page brief he filed in cases challenging gay nuptials bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee repeatedly referenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Loving v. Virginia decision that struck down state interracial marriage prohibitions in 1967. He also noted the commonwealth defended racially segregated public schools before the U.S. Supreme Court struck them down in 1954 with its Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

“Virginia invoked federalism, arguing that education policy and marriage regulation are quintessentially state prerogatives that federal courts should leave alone,” wrote Herring. “Virginia also invoked history and tradition to justify segregation and anti-miscegenation laws, arguing that such laws were acceptable to the founders because they were commonplace when the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment were ratified. But Virginia’s government was wrong then, and the four states that reprise modern-day versions of those failed arguments are wrong here.”

Herring in his brief notes 1,289 same-sex couples have married in Virginia since last October since gay marriage became legal in the commonwealth.

The attorney general shortly in January 2014 announced that he would not defend the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Tim Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk and three other same-sex couples in 2013 filed a lawsuit against the state’s marriage amendment. Herring in his brief notes that U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “vindicated” his position against it.

“It is utterly implausible that permitting same-sex couples to marry and raise their children in two legal parent households will make different-sex couples less likely to marry and raise their children in two legal parent households,” wrote Herring. “Other courts have justifiably ridiculed such excuses.”

Gays and lesbians are able to legally marry in D.C. and more than three-dozen states.

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 will hear oral arguments in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee cases.

“The (same-sex marriage) bans facially discriminate against gay people who wish to marry someone of their own gender,” concludes Herring in his brief.

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