Metro Weekly

Equality Virginia PAC endorses AG Mark Herring for re-election

AG argued against same-sex marriage ban and opined that schools can pass pro-LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies

Photo: Mark Herring. Credit: Glenn Fajota/American Foundation for Equal Rights.

Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee has endorsed Attorney General Mark Herring (D) for re-election.

It follows primary endorsements for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in the governor’s race and out transgender candidate Danica Roem for the House of Delegates.

“When choosing an Attorney General, Virginians have a clear choice this November,” James Parrish, EVPAC’s executive director, said in a statement. “Mark Herring has stood beside Virginia’s LGBT community from day one. He is the candidate who will keep equality’s momentum moving forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Both Herring and Northam previously earned EVPAC’s endorsement during the 2013 election cycle, when they were first elected. Herring had a generally favorable record on LGBTQ issues during his time as a state senator representing Loudoun County, and evolved into a major advocate for marriage equality.

As attorney general, Herring argued against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was overturned by a district court judge — a decision upheld by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, enabling same-sex couples in Virginia to obtain marriage licenses.

Herring also issued an opinion finding that local school boards had leeway to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, which has led to the approval of such protections, most recently in Prince William County.

Herring has acknowledged the harm faced by the LGBTQ community by hate crimes, and has put forth legislative proposals to help protect LGBTQ Virginians. Unfortunately, the Republican-dominated legislature has consistently killed bills that ask for studies or better record-keeping of statistics relating to hate crimes.

Herring faces off against Republican John Adams of Chesterfield, an attorney who, according to his campaign website, laments that “the social issues of our day no longer belong to the people and the ballot box. Instead, nine unelected lawyers of the Supreme Court decide them, usually on grounds you will not find written in our Constitution.”

Adams previously called for Herring’s impeachment, because he refused to defend the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. He has also called the Supreme Court’s decision “totally made up” and said it is “based on nothing in the Constitution.”

“As the father of four young sons, I will not stand by while career politicians, social engineers, and progressive ideologues force their values on us and try to supplant our ideals and institutions with an oversized government they believe ‘knows better’ than we do,” Adams writes on his website, tipping his hand as to where he stands on issues like nondiscrimination policies and transgender rights .

For Herring, who won his first term by only 907 votes, November’s election already promised to be a contentious race where his stance on LGBTQ rights could turn away some more socially conservative voters. Nonetheless, the attorney general embraced the endorsement from EVPAC.

“If there’s one person that everybody should know will stand up and fight for them, it’s their Attorney General,” Herring said in a statement. “I’m proud that I was able to put Virginia on the right side of the law and on the right side of history. Now, all Virginians can exercise their fundamental right to marry the person they love. I’m honored to have the support of Equality Virginia, and I’ll continue to protect the safety and the rights of LGBT Virginians, and all who call our Commonwealth home.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com