The attorney general of Virginia should be charged with misconduct because he is defying citizens by supporting a lawsuit to introduce gay marriage, a pro-traditional marriage group has said.
Two same-sex couples are suing over the state’s constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman – voted for by residents of Virginia in 2006.
But last week, the attorney general Mark Herring said he would be filing a brief in support of the gay couples, saying that he “cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights”.
Professor John Eastman, Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Board of Directors, said Herring’s behaviour goes against his duties.
“Here you don’t merely have the attorney general abandoning the defence of the law and remaining neutral – a decision which itself would be based on very dubious grounds.
“No, this goes further: Herring is staying involved in the case, and advocating directly for the side opposed to the interests of his clients, the people of Virginia. Any other lawyer pulling that kind of nonsense would be disbarred”, he said.
And the president of NOM, Brian Brown, said that Herring’s “neglect of duty is not only a disgrace, it’s an impeachable offence under the constitution”.
Theodore Olson, a lawyer for the gay couples in the federal lawsuit, said he looked forward to working with Herring to overturn the state’s current definition of marriage.
Mr Olson said the attorney general’s actions have “brought Virginia that much closer to the quintessential American ideals of equality under the law and the freedom to pursue happiness”.
In 2006, 57 per cent of Virginians voted for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that each US state may decide for itself whether it wants same-sex marriage or not.
It also struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) so that same-sex couples who enter a gay marriage in those few US States which allow it are entitled to federal benefits.