Updated Statement By TFF President Victoria Cobb Regarding AG Herring’s Decision Not To Defend Marriage Amendment


January 23, 2014


The decision by the Attorney General is not surprising, but it is disappointing and frightening. It’s disappointing that he wouldn’t be clear about his intentions on this issue while campaigning for the office. More importantly, it’s frightening that politicians like the Attorney General feel that they can pick and choose which aspects of the constitution they deem worthy to defend and apply. Whether one agrees with the marriage amendment or not, the idea that over a million Virginia citizens can be left defenseless by the Attorney General after legally voting for an amendment that he himself supported is chilling.

It is well settled that laws of the commonwealth are presumed constitutional. The burden is on the party challenging the law to demonstrate that it is unconstitutional. In Virginia, the Attorney General is responsible to defend all the laws of the Commonwealth, whether he personally agrees with them or not. This has been the standard for decades and has separated Virginia from other states where the Attorney General is more of a political activist. Attorney General Herring is pursuing his personal political views rather than defending the constitution of the commonwealth.

It is unprecedented for an Attorney General not only to refuse to defend a state law or Constitution, at least by hiring outside counsel, but is actually taking a position against his client, the people of Virginia. This is the action of an activist Attorney General, not someone dedicated to the rule of law.

The Attorney General claims he is making his decision based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions from last year, but neither of those decisions struck down or in any way invalidated state marriage amendments. One had nothing to do with a state amendment. The other involved the Attorney General of California not defending that state’s marriage amendment, and the Supreme Court dismissed the case saying that the citizens didn’t have standing before the court.


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28 Responses to “Updated Statement By TFF President Victoria Cobb Regarding AG Herring’s Decision Not To Defend Marriage Amendment”

  1. Valerie Grissom says:

    What can the Va Delegate Senate or House do in this situation.? Mark Herring needs to be shown the door ASAP! As an example to people who get in office and govern as they please.

    • Jim Smith says:

      Where were you when Cooch was all over?

    • Cole Washington says:

      Shown the door? How exactly would that work? Seriously I want you to explain it?

    • M Mirabelle says:

      Hi Valerie!

      Mr Herring is not governing as he pleases. He is executing his office according to the legal leanings and philosophies that were selected by the majority of Virginia voters when they elected him to be the Attorney General. Basically, the majority of Virginians picked an AG with these views of the law, so the majority’s will is now legally being implemented.

      Remember all an Attorney General does is issue legal opinions. They are not legislators or justices, so it has to go through those channels to become law.

      • Tom says:

        The Attorney General is sworn to uphold the Federal Constitution, the Virginia State Constitution, and the Laws of Virginia made by people duly elected to represent them. Where is the overwhelming majority of people who voted to disregard Virginia’s “one man, one woman” law? Whatever happened to the “rule of law”? (Throw that out and you have anarchy). Sorry, you are off-base. Mr. Herring is not supporting anything but his own future political ambitions. He was not elected to, effectively, make his own laws. This panel of experts who decided the law should be put aside were not elected by the people of Virginia.

  2. Debbie Noble says:

    Is there any recourse on this issue? Is this something the Legislature will have the opportunity on which to vote? To whom would we direct a protest over this action?

  3. Jim Smith says:

    Great, isn’t it! Equality for all!

    • Jordan says:

      It’s not about if you think gay marriage is good or not – it’s about defending the law…which is his job. We have the General Assembly to make laws, the Attorney General’s job is to uphold the ones already in place.

      • Jim Smith says:

        Not to defend laws he’s determined to be unconstitutional under the US constitution. Kooky Cooch did precisly the same thing. I’m afraid I don’t remember miss Vicky characterizing that identical behavior as ‘frightening’. Where was the outrage way back then?? Oh, right, hat’s different, he was a tea bagger. Never mind.

      • M Mirabelle says:

        Hi Jordan!

        It also the duty of the Attorney General to review the constitutionality of state laws that appear to be in conflict or contradiction to the US Constitution. That’s also in the oath of office taken by Attorneys General upon their inauguration.

        • Jeff E says:

          AG Cuccinelli never came close to the oversteps of AG Herring. Cuccinelli always defended state laws, even those that he thought would be found unconstitutional. If he didn’t defend directly with the AG Office, he appointed outside counsel. Most importantly he NEVER joined in a law suit AGAINST the state regarding existing state laws and CERTAINLY NOT against the foundational law of the State, the Virginia Constitution!

          The US Constitution is silent on the definition of civil marriage. The Virginia Constitution was legally amended to include this definition. AG Herring has clearly broken his oath to support the Constitution of Virginia, and he should resign or be impeached!

  4. Concerned Voter says:

    This sounds like the whole issue of interracial marriage all over again. Thanks to the Supreme Court overturning laws that were legitimately put in place to prevent it, we were forced to accept that awful mingling of blacks and whites, and look what it did to our nation.

    Oh, that’s right–it didn’t do anything. Oh, well, don’t pay any attention to that. Just look at all the gay children same-sex couples are going to produce!

    Oh, wait–all those LGBTQ folk result from heterosexual intercourse, since they’re born and not cloned. So maybe it’s straight people who are raising their children to be gay.

    Whoa. So what good does it really do to tell two conseinting adults of the same sex that they can’t get married? Who’s it really hurting to let people you don’t even know live their lives in a certain way, and why is it anyone’s right to stick his or her nose in the business of that couple anyway?

    Interracial marriage all over again, I’m tellin’ ya.

  5. god-fearer says:

    IT shows the depth of Ms Cobb’s hypocrisy to call Honorable Mr Herring ‘activist’ and not call Honorable Mr Cuccinelli exactly the same. Honorable Mr Cuccinelli routinely exercised powers for personal activism. Including so far as to seek to construct a secretive police force under his control and outside the control of the State Police!

  6. Joy Broadway says:

    Thank you for this excellent response! The attorney general is stepping outside the law of this state and basically stating that our votes in 2006 don’t matter. This is outrageous and unacceptable. Thank you Family Foundation for standing strong for Virginia families.

  7. John L. Hemphill says:

    This is crazy; here is an Attorney General who is suppose to uphold the law and decides not to. We have an Attorney General who isn’t a judge yet is acting like the judge of the law. And we have an Attorney General who clearly is a plant by Activitists. At this point anything he does in that office will be suspect so he must go because he can’t be trusted to uphold any law if he just wakes up and decided not to agree with it. Its the behavior of a dictator more than an Attorney General

  8. M Mirabelle says:

    Anybody who claims that Mark Herring is abusing his office by refusing to support the Marriage Amendment is not telling you the truth.

    The truth is this: the Attorney General swears an oath to uphold both the US Constitution and the Virginia Constitution. When an Attorney General concludes that the two are in conflict with one another, he or she may determine that the Virginia laws are unconstitutional, and may choose not to uphold them.

    Remember that the Attorney General is a state-wide elected position, so his or her opinions are not arbitrary. They was voted into office by the people of Virginia. The people of Virginia elected an Attorney General with these types of legal leanings and views. And on the ballot there were alternative legal leanings and views which were rejected by the popular vote of the people of Virginia (namely, those of Mr Obenshain).

    So to complain that this is one person’s power-grab or dictatorial decision is ridiculous. Its all perfectly democratic.

    An Attorney General may not strike down the law perceived to be unconstitutional, of course. That is for the courts to determine. In the current situation, the courts will take their first review of the Marriage Amendment later this month, in Norfolk.

  9. Megan says:

    Anyone who claims that the 14th amendment of equal opportunity applies here is not telling you the truth.

    Marriage is equally offered to all. Any man is given the same freedoms as any other man to marry a woman. As well, any woman is equally afforded the same opportunity to marry a man.

  10. Same-Sex Married Guy says:

    The Supreme Court of the United States ruled same-sex marriage to be legal. It is now federal law. The Attorney General has saved the Commonwealth millions of dollars in legal fees trying to defend an indefensible position. The U. S. Constitution trumps the Virginia document every time. Putting equal rights for all Virginians out for a vote was reprehensible but then this is not a state known for a lot of common sense or obedience to the voice of the SCOTUS. Virginia shut down entire school systems rather than integrate. Virginia banned interracial marriage. Virginia fought against the vote for women. At least they are consistent. Victoria Cobb and the Family Foundation have become irrelevant.

  11. Jeff E says:

    All of you trollers trying to say that supporting equal marriage rights should mean support of gay marriage, just how would you define marriage if you allow homosexual marriage? If any two people can get married, why shouldn’t 3, 4, 10 or more (btw in Utah a federal judge has already invalidated anti-polygamy laws using the homosexual marriage ruling there as precedent)? Why shouldn’t close relatives be allowed to marry? You see the problem with your argument? Once you remove the biological and cultural rationale for civil marriage between one man and one woman, there is no longer any rational or fair definition that would hold. You then have no basis for family law either. Just the relationship of the state to the individual. A cultural precedent for even more tyranny from an all-powerful federal government.

  12. Jim Fox says:

    Herring needs to be immediately RECALLED if he doesn’t turn from this behavior!

  13. Mark Herring,

    Please uphold the current law in VA making same sex marriage illegal , please define marriage in VA as one man and one woman. Please uphold the VA Constitution and keep current laws legal as voted so by constituents.

    Lola Rasschaert
    Riner ,VA

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