Democratic attorney general candidates Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Monday they would not defend Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban if elected.

Richards started a petition asking the Department of Justice to support him and take a stand against the ban as well. He said he believes the ban is unconstitutional and contradicts the Equal Protection Clause in the Constitution.

In contrast, Republican candidate Brad Schimel said the state attorney general should not allow his opinions to inform their defense of state law.

“It is the responsibility of the attorney general to defend the laws of our state, not to substitute his or her personal opinions for the law,” Schimel said in an email to The Badger Herald. “It appears that Rep. Richards wants to make policy. That is the job of the Legislature, not the attorney general.”

Schimel also said he feels the Constitution gives the state the right to define marriage.

Richards said in a statement he believes the rights of same-sex couples are being violated and this is a belief he has held for many years. Richards voted against the ban in 2003 and 2005.

“He has had a long record of leadership on this issue, and that is why he wants to continue being an advocate as attorney general,” Andy Suchorski, a spokesperson for Richards’ campaign, said.

Richards said in his petition he believes the attorney general should play a role in defending the Constitution and values of Wisconsin residents, but this duty has not been fulfilled for a long time.

Ozanne also said he has no plans of supporting the state ban if elected.

“[Ozanne] will not defend the anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment as attorney general not only because there is no legal basis to do so, but because it is unfair, wrong and inconsistent with Wisconsin’s values,” Stan Davis, a spokesperson for the Ozanne campaign, said in an email to the Herald.

[Photo by Flickr user Elsie esq.]