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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is expected to announce on Thursday that he will challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage in federal court. The amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage was originally passed in 2006 with 57 percent voter support.

According to The Washington Post:

Herring will say that Virginia has been on the “wrong side” of landmark legal battles involving school desegregation, interracial marriage and single-sex education at the Virginia Military Institute, one official said. He will make the case that the commonwealth should be on the “right side of the law and history” in the battle over same-sex marriage.

As a state senator, Herring was against same-sex marriage but, much like other politicians over the last few years, his stance has changed. "I talked to a lot of people, I thought a lot about it, talked to my family," he told reporters last August, "and I have seen how I would not want the state to tell my son or my daughter who they can and cannot marry."

Herring told NPR, "As attorney general, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians' rights. The commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied." He argues that the ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and therefore will not defend it in court.

According to a July poll of registered voters in the state, 50 percent are in favor of gay marriage, while 43 percent oppose it. The state has a long history with marriage equality: the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia ruled laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional. Herring is expected to argue that the precedent upheld a fundamental right to not just interracial marriage, but marriage in general.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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