Same-Sex Marriage Battle Continues in Virginia

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Should gay marriage be recognized in Virginia?

A federal judge in Harrisonburg listened to arguments on a challenge to Virginia's same sex marriage ban Tuesday.

Lawyers for two same sex couples want the lawsuit to become a class action lawsuit.

The judge now has to issue a written opinion and also looking at whether to dismiss Governor Bob McDonnell and Staunton Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Roberts as defendants in the case.

Roberts' attorney said he is bound by Virginia law not to issue a marriage license to same sex couples.

"We've been through a lot together, we have a child together, we have a home together, we are a family and we don't feel that there's any other word other than marriage that adequately describes the depth of our relationship," said Victoria Kidd a plaintiff in the case.

Kidd and Christy Berghoff said they want to be equal in the eyes of the law.

"It's about everything we do in our life and the state laws that affect us are not just about a piece of paper," said Berghoff.

In court, Solicitor General E. Duncan Getchell, who is representing the governor, said the governor has only general enforcement authority under the 11th amendment.

The governor is not subject to a lawsuit unless he plays a specific role.

The ACLU said he does play a role.

"Marriage laws in Virginia, they pervade almost every aspect of state government," said Rebecca Glenberg, the legal director of ACLU of Virginia.

If the ACLU gets its wish, the lawsuit will include more people.

"We want to make sure that whatever ruling comes out of this case will apply to every single same sex couple that wants to get married in Virginia or have their out-of-state marriages recognized," said Glenberg.

Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff agree.

"There are couples in Virginia that need the right to be married and are in loving committed, relationships and should have the opportunity to take care of one another," said Harris.

The two also want to make sure they can care for their kids.

"I'm already a parent at heart, but legally a parent to [our son] and make medical decisions for him and make medical decisions for Joanne, my loved one, and not be criticized," said Duff.

We did not receive a statement when we attempted to reach out to Brian Gottstein, the director of communication for the attorney general.

There's no word on a time for the judge to realize a written opinion, it could be weeks or even months.

Judge Urbanski will also schedule a summary judgment hearing if the court feels that is necessary.


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