RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — In a move that could give gay marriage its first foothold in the South, Virginia‘s attorney general said Thursday he concluded the state’s ban on same-sex unions is unconstitutional and he will join the fight against it.

Newly-elected Democratic Attorney GeneralMark R. Herring said he would support gay couples who have filed lawsuits challenging the state’s ban.

“After thorough legal review, I have now concluded that Virginia’s ban on marriage between same sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on two grounds: marriage is a fundamental right being denied to some Virginians, and the ban unlawfully discriminates on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender,” Herring said.

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