Va. AG's office: Gay marriage ban unconstitutional

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The office of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says he's concluded that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and he will no longer defend it in federal lawsuits challenging it.

In an email to The Associated Press early Thursday, Herring spokesman Michael Kelly says the state will instead side with the plaintiffs who are seeking to have the ban struck down.

Kelly says the attorney general decided the ban was unconstitutional after a thorough legal review of the matter.

Virginia has emerged as a critical state in the nationwide fight for gay marriage. The state's shift comes on the heels of recent court rulings in which federal judges struck down gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

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