Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates want to give lawmakers standing in lawsuits where the attorney general and governor have chosen not to participate.
The House approved a bill Monday at the Capitol giving them that power.
The bill is a response to Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring's decision to fight Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. Herring announced last month that he will join gay couples in two federal lawsuits challenging the ban. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has supported Herring's move.
Republicans in the GOP-controlled House said McAuliffe and Herring had abandoned their duty to uphold the state's laws, regardless of their personal views.
House Democrats said Republicans were overstepping their bounds and called on the Democratically controlled Senate to reject the proposal.