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Some hear race echoes in Va. gay marriage ban

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FREDERIC J. FROMMER | April 6, 2014 09:32 AM EST | AP


WASHINGTON (AP) — To some people in Virginia, the fight over legalization of same-sex marriage echoes a decades-old battle over the state's 1924 law banning marriage between white and black people.

As a young lawyer in the 1960s, Philip J. Hirschkop represented an interracial couple that successfully challenged Virginia's interracial ban. He argues that prejudice was the basis for both that prohibition and the gay marriage ban.

But opponents of gay marriage reject the comparison.

Brian Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage, a Washington-based group that opposes same-sex marriage. He calls it "a slur and a slander" to say people are prejudiced if they believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.

A federal judge has declared Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The ruling has been appealed.