Foreward by Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring

Mark Herring Cropped.jpeg

Congratulations to the team at Q Virginia for another great issue, and for those of you who are busy planning a wedding in the coming months, congratulations! You’ll find that Virginia is the best place in the world to marry the person you love and to build a life together.

It is still amazing to look back on how quickly the national debate on marriage equality evolved to the point where the legal conclusion last year at the Supreme Court seemed almost inevitable, and to consider Virginia’s role in that national debate.

When I took office in January 2014, I had a decision to make: whether Virginia would continue to deny the fundamental rights of certain Virginians, or whether we would show ourselves and the nation another way forward. I chose to join the fight for marriage equality, making Virginia a national leader and helping to develop the legal arguments that eventually led to recognition by the U.S. Supreme Court that the joys, rights, and responsibilities or marriage cannot be denied to loving couples.

Simply put, it has been one of the highest honors of my career.

I will never forget the moments along the way where the importance and righteousness of this cause came into focus. When I met Carol Schall, Mary Townley, and their daughter Emily, an incredible family from the Richmond area who stepped forward to challenge Virginia’s marriage ban, it drove home just what we were fighting for. When my team and I twice walked into federal court to successfully argue for marriage equality, it struck me how different the scene could have been if an election had turned out differently. When I helped Mary and Carol renew their vows on the steps of the courthouse in Richmond, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to deny this beautiful family the joy and happiness of this moment. And when I walked into the United States Supreme Court in late April 2015 for the landmark arguments on marriage equality, after spending part of the prior evening with lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell, there was a palpable feeling of history and momentum that we could have scarcely imagined just a year or two before.

Of course, our work is not done.  Gay men and women can still be denied housing or services, or even fired from a job because of who they are and whom they love. And politicians in Washington and Richmond seem to be constantly concocting new ways to once again and more emphatically legalize discrimination against LGBT Virginians. We must let them know that all Virginians will be treated with the respect, dignity, and equality we deserve.

For those of you about to celebrate, congratulations! And let’s all continue to stand united in support of equality, opportunity, and justice for all Virginians!

Best wishes,

Mark Herring

Attorney General of Virginia