herring 300x200 Virginia Attorney General Will Join Lawsuit Against States Marriage Ban

(Jahi Chikwendiu / Washington Post)

This phenomenal news broke last night. The new Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, will be joining Ted Olson and David Boies in their lawsuit to overturn Virginia’s ban on marriage equality:

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring will announce Thursday that he believes the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that Virginia will join two same-sex couples in asking a federal court to strike it down, according to an official close to the attorney general with knowledge about the decision.

The action will mark a stunning reversal in the state’s legal position on same-sex marriage and is a result of November elections in which Democrats swept the state’s top offices. Herring’s predecessor, Republican Ken Cuccinelli II, adamantly opposes gay marriage and had vowed to defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment banning such unions, which was passed in 2006 with the support of 57 percent of voters.

Herring, too, had voted against same-sex marriage eight years ago, when he was a state senator. But he has said that his views have changed since then and that on Thursday he will file a supportive brief in a lawsuit in Norfolk that challenges the state’s ban, said two people familiar with his plans.

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.

We have seen a state unwilling to defend its own discriminatory ban before, but, for this to be happening in Virginia feels like the tide has truly turned.

Herring explained more of his reasoning to NPR:

“I had voted against marriage equality eight years ago back in 2006 even though at the time I was speaking out against discrimination and ways to end discrimination and I was wrong for not applying it to marriage,” Herring told NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Thursday. “I saw very soon after that how that hurt a lot of people and it was very painful for a lot of people.”

Herring said he spoke with constituents, co-workers and his family and has “come to see the issue very differently now.” His children played a role in his changing views, he said.

“They were instructive about the relationships that people have, and they were helpful in getting me to see a different perspective,” Herring said. “They pressed me for the position I had taken and made me continue to question it, and I just came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do.”

We applaud his courage and encourage more in his position to take the right stand, on the right side of history.

[h/t Joe]