The days leading up to the Federal Appeals Court hearing on both of the challenges against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage are running low, and Attorney General Mark Herring is sticking with his plan to fight the issue.
In a brief filed today, Herring further detailed why his office would not support a ban which has been struck down in every other challenge nation wide.
“Courts are suspicious of laws that discriminate based on race, national origin, gender, alienage, and illegitimacy,” wrote Herring’s office in the brief. “Such classifications are “suspect” because, in our nation’s history, they often spring from prejudice. So we put a heavy burden on the State to justify them. It is simply not credible to argue that courts have no similar reason to be suspicious of laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”
While much of the brief’s language falls into legalese, it’s apparent Herring is not afraid to call out same-sex marriage opponents despite recent polls showing Virginian’s support for the issue at %50, a number unchanged since last year.
Herring even recognizes the internal struggle many religious Virginians have when dealing with same-sex marriage recognition, saying “many good and decent Virginians undoubtedly voted for the Marshall-Newman Amendment because of sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong or that gay marriage conflicts with Biblical teachings.”
“But religion cannot justify State-sponsored discrimination,” write’s Herring. “Recognizing that the Constitution prevents the State from enforcing such beliefs does not pronounce the beliefs themselves “illegitimate.”… It simply recognizes that such views cannot deprive other citizens of their rights.”
We’ll have a more thorough analysis of the Herring Brief, as well as the briefs supporting the ban, in the coming weeks. The 4th District Court of Appeals here in Richmond will hear the two challenges to the state’s ban on May 13th.