January 27, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
McAuliffe declines to appoint special counsel to defend Va. marriage ban

Terry McAuliffe, Richmond, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday said he will not appoint a special counsel to defend his state’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

McAuliffe told state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) in a letter that he shares the view that “the effective administration of our legal system requires zealous advocacy on all matters before the courts.” The governor said Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer and Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Foundation of Virginia are “vigorously and appropriately” defending the state’ same-sex marriage ban after Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would not defend it.

Marshall is among the more than 30 legislators who urged McAuliffe in a Jan. 24 letter to defend the marriage amendment that Virginia voters approved in 2006.

“Accordingly, I respectfully decline to appoint special counsel in this matter,” wrote McAuliffe.

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Thursday will hold a hearing in a lawsuit that two couples — Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Richmond — filed last year against the marriage amendment. The ACLU, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Virginia last August filed a class action federal lawsuit on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley who are seeking marriage rights in the commonwealth.

A Virginia House of Delegates committee on Jan. 24 approved a bill that Marshall and state Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah County) introduced earlier this month that would allow any state lawmaker to defend a law if the governor and attorney general decline to do so.

The full House is expected to vote on the measure on Wednesday, but the state Senate will likely kill it.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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