The Senate in the US state of Virginia yesterday killed a bill which would have allowed a secondary defence of its same-sex marriage ban.

The bill, which passed in the House, would have allowed Virginia to appoint lawmakers to defend its gay marriage ban if the governor or attorney general refused to do so.

Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring announced last month 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 also last month 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.

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.

After passing in the House, the bill was expected to fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

A US federal judge on Valentine’s Day overturned Virginia’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

The ruling by Judge Arenda Wright Allen did not immediately apply pending a possible appeal, but now that this bill has failed, it is unlikely that an appeal will take place.