High Court Blocks Same-Sex Unions in Virginia

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is delaying the start of same-sex marriage in Virginia.

The court on Wednesday granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to block same-sex marriages across the state while the issue is being appealed to the Supreme Court. The court provided no explanation for its order.

Without court intervention, same-sex couples would have been allowed to wed as of Thursday.

In January, the justices issued an order putting same-sex unions on hold in Utah while the federal appeals court in Denver was hearing the case. That court upheld the decision striking down Utah's gay marriage ban, but delayed its decision from taking effect pending appeal to the Supreme Court.

Most other federal court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage also have been put on hold.

Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant a stay that will delay same-sex marriages in Virginia until the court decides whether or not it will hear the case:

“Today’s decision is a temporary delay to the inevitable conclusion that Virginians who love each other should have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. Building a new Virginia economy means creating an environment that is open and welcoming to all, where world-class innovators and entrepreneurs can locate without fear of discrimination. That is why my first act as Governor banned discrimination in the state workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and why I support marriage equality in Virginia as a key ingredient of that economy of the future.

“I applaud Attorney General Mark Herring for his continued efforts to see this case concluded as quickly as possible, and I hope the Supreme Court takes immediate action to uphold the 4th Circuit’s decision so that Virginia can finally take this next important step in our history. In the meantime, my administration will make the necessary preparations so that we are ready to implement this decision if the ruling is upheld.”

Attorney General Herring issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court's stay:

"This case has moved with extraordinary pace, from filing to a possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court in just one year. But it is still difficult to expect Virginians to wait to exercise what I believe is a fundamental right, especially when we are so close to our goal. That's why I've been fighting for marriage equality and working to expedite the case so the Supreme Court can definitively answer the constitutional questions about marriage equality and permanently protect the families of Virginia's same-sex couples. I reluctantly agreed that a stay was warranted in light of the way the Supreme Court handled a nearly identical case in Utah, and because of the potential that an adverse Supreme Court ruling might cause children adopted by a second parent to have that adoption heartbreakingly invalidated, death benefits conferred to grieving spouses taken away, and spousal benefits families thought would pay the bills thrown into limbo.

"Virginia's case is waiting for the Supreme Court's review, as are several others from around the country, and I have petitioned for an extraordinarily speedy review from the Court. Virginia families suffer each day that this decision is delayed."

The Family Foundation today expressed appreciation regarding the United States Supreme Court’s decision to grant a stay in the Fourth Circuit’s decision to overturn Virginia’s marriage amendment.

“We are pleased that for the sake of Virginia's families and all involved that the Supreme Court showed consistency and granted a stay just as it has in other similar cases. Even Attorney General Herring, who supports redefining marriage, asked for a stay, understanding that this issue is likely to be dealt with by the Supreme Court in the very near future.

“The debate over marriage should be allowed to continue in the public square, in the legislature and at the ballot box, and not be imposed by the courts. Let’s have a civil, reasonable debate over marriage and the government’s involvement in marriage. It would be unfortunately if that debate was cut off by a handful of judges.”

In response to U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to stay the marriage ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, the following can be attributed to James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia:

“It is disappointing that the Supreme Court stayed the 4th Circuit Court’s decision,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. “Lesbian and gay Virginians have waited long enough for the freedom to marry. Loving couples – and families – should not have to endure yet another standstill before their commitment to one another is recognized here in Virginia. Every day that this ruling is stayed, more lesbian and gay Virginians will suffer undue harm as they wait to insure their spouses, wait to adopt the children they are raising, and wait to have their relationships affirmed by the Commonwealth. Equality Virginia urges the Supreme Court to take this case as soon as possible and hopes that it will rule once and for all in favor of marriage equality.”

American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia Executive Director, Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, issued a statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to stay the recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Schaefer v. Bostic striking down Virginia’s discriminatory marriage ban.
"We are disappointed that the 14,000 couples we represent in Virginia will have to continue to wait to exercise their fundamental right to marry, or to have their marriages recognized in Virginia. Until the Supreme Court rules on marriage equality, many gay and lesbian Virginians will live without legal recognition of their relationships with their children, access to their spouse’s health insurance benefits, the ability to make medical decisions for their spouse, and countless other rights that other married couples take for granted. We hope that the Supreme Court will decide this case as quickly as possible so that families will not have to wait any longer than necessary to exercise these rights."


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