The House in the US state of Virginia has advanced a bill which would enable politicians to hire a lawyer to defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring announced last week that the state would side with same-sex couples who are seeking to have the ban struck down, rather than defend it.

A letter sent last Friday from Delegate Bob Marshall and 31 other Republican officials called on Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to appoint legal counsel to defend it, in lieu of Mr Herring.

The bill which passed its preliminary hearing on Friday is likely to pass in a final vote in the House on Monday.

But it is expected to fail once it reaches the newly Democratic-controlled Senate.

Normally the state’s attorney general would defend a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but Herring last year announced his support for same-sex marriage.

Simultaneously a federal district court ruled that an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit against the same-sex marriage ban would constitute class action.

Now that the ACLU suit is class action, it represents all same-sex couples in the state, rather than just the plaintiffs in the case.

A group of officials in the US state of Virginia earlier in January introduced the legislation to repeal the ban.

Openly gay State Senator Adam Ebbin was among those who introduced the legislation. It will not make it to voters for a ballot until at least 2016, as the bill has to pass two sessions in both houses in order to become public.