Thursday, January 23, 2014

Federalism and Gay Marriage

Just an hour ago our brand new Attorney General Mark Herring (D) who won in the closest contest in VA history (907 votes) just released a brief in favor of gay marriage.  Here is the NPR interview and here is a "print" article.
  • In VA we have both a law and an amendment against gay marriage.  
  • Herring has decided to both not defend the law/amendment which certainly brings up the question of whether the top prosecutor for a state can ignore a law
  • Herring has submitted a brief to federal court (hence the federalism) supporting the gay couples challenging the ban.

For government class it begins with federalism.  Then students need to consider several different items.
  • 10th amendment's reserved clause which says marriage is not in the US Constitution and therefore it is up to VA or any state
  • Full faith and credit clause.  We recognize opposite gender marriage, but not same sex when people move from state to state
  • Equal protection clause of the 14th amendment which is where Herring is arguing saying that it is the right of all people to marry.  He is also tagging Loving v. Virginia which he has argued in a brief that that precedent is about marriage for all, not just minorities. 

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