RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has struck down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled Monday that state constitutional and statutory provisions barring gay marriage and denying recognition of such unions performed in other states violate the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia gay marriage case is one of several that could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In February, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that Virginia's same-sex marriage ban violates equal protection and due process guarantees. Lawyers for two circuit court clerks whose duties include issuing marriage licenses appealed.
The lawsuit was filed by two Norfolk men who were denied a marriage license and two Chesterfield County women whose marriage in California is not recognized by Virginia.
Governor McAuliffe released this statement about the ruling:
“I am overjoyed by the news that, as a result of today’s ruling, Virginia will become a state where two people who love each other can get married regardless of their sexual orientation. This is a historic ruling for our Commonwealth, and its effect will affirm once again that Virginia is a state that is open and welcoming to all.
“I want to thank Attorney General Mark Herring for his leadership in this case, and all of the men and women who fought for years to make this day a reality. Progress does not always come as quickly as we hope it will, but today is yet another example of how justice, equality and the people who fight for those values will always persevere in the end.”
Robert Sarvis, a Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate released this statement:
“Marriage freedom is a deeply important issue to me, which is why I made it a centerpiece of my campaign for governor last year.
“In 1967, a Virginia couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, fought to overturn marriages between people of different races. If it weren’t for the courage of the Lovings, I might not have been able to marry the woman I love.
“Public opinion in Virginia has shifted dramatically since the Marshall-Newman Amendment was enacted in 2006. In fact, polls now show that a majority of Virginians support marriage equality.
“I wanted Virginia to achieve marriage freedom through the democratic process, but as with interracial marriage, it is court action that has seen it through. I look forward to seeing same-sex couples in Virginia celebrating their marriages and enjoying equal treatment under the law.
“Make no mistake, this decision would not have been possible if the U.S. Constitution had been amended to ban same-sex marriage, as my Republican opponent Ed Gillespie advocated when he was the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.”
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