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Court hearing set over gay marriage ban in Virginia


NORFOLK, Va. -- A federal judge was set to hear arguments Tuesday on whether Virginia's ban on gay marriage should be struck down, which is the position the state's newly elected Democratic attorney general has endorsed in a move that angered many Republican lawmakers.

In January, Attorney General Mark Herring's office notified the federal court in Norfolk that it would not defend the 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment in a lawsuit — a move with the potential to give gay marriage its first foothold in the South. Republicans have accused Herring of abandoning his responsibility to defend the state's laws and a handful of protesters gathered at the federal courthouse Tuesday morning shouted phrases decrying his position and carried signs such as "Herring's herring. AG's must uphold the law."

Across the street, about just as many gay-marriage supporters shouted their support for the plaintiffs in the case and carried signs saying "Marry who you love."

Newly elected Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has rebuffed calls to appoint outside counsel to defend the ban. On Monday, Republicans in the House passed a bill that would give lawmakers standing in lawsuits where the attorney general and governor have chosen not to participate.

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