NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A federal judge has ruled that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen's decision Thursday makes Virginia the second state in the South to have a ban on gay marriages overturned. It comes the day after a similar ruling in Kentucky and following similar rulings in federal courts in Utah and Oklahoma.
Wright stayed her decision until an appeals court rules, meaning that gay couples will not be able to marry in the state immediately.
Following the issuance of the decision, Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the following statement:
"This decision is a victory for the Constitution and for treating everyone equally under the law. It is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love. But Judge Wright Allen's eloquent decision is only one step in what I suspect will be an extended legal process to definitively answer the questions raised in this case. When we announced the decision to change Virginia's legal position in Bostic v. Rainey, I said that the case presented fundamental questions that need to be decided by a court, and may ultimately need to be decided by the Supreme Court. That remains true today. The legal process will continue to play out in the months to come, but this decision shows that Virginia, like America, is coming to a better place in recognizing that every Virginian deserves to be treated equally and fairly."
Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement on the federal district court’s decision striking down Virginia’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples:
"I applaud the federal district court's decision to ensure all Virginians are treated equally under the law, no matter what their backgrounds are or whom they love. In order to grow our economy and attract the best businesses, entrepreneurs, and families to Virginia, we must be open and welcoming to all who call our Commonwealth home. As this case continues through the judicial process, I will enforce the laws currently on the books, but this decision is a significant step forward in achieving greater equality for all of our citizens."