Nigel Campbell's picture

Federal Judge Strikes Down Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban

What a fantastic Valentine's Day gift! It looks like Virginia really is for lovers!!

A federal judge struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage late Thursday night!

According to The Washington Post:

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen issued a sweeping 41-page opinion that mentioned at length Virginia’s past in denying interracial marriage and quoted Abraham Lincoln. She struck the constitutional amendment Virginia voters approved in 2006 that both bans same-sex marriage and forbids recognition of such unions performed elsewhere.

She stayed her decision pending appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, meaning same-sex marriages will be not be immediately available in the commonwealth.

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), who had switched the state’s legal position on the issue and joined two gay couples in asking that the ban be struck down, has said the state will continue to enforce the prohibitions until the legal process is completed.

It's also important to note the powerful language Judge Wright Allen included in her decision. This ruling clearly isn't one she's making begrudgingly. Wright Allen says in her decision:

“Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships,” Wright Allen wrote. “Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices — choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.”

...

“Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.”

...

“The legitimate purposes proffered by the proponents for the challenged laws—to promote conformity to the traditions and heritage of a majority of Virginia’s citizens, to perpetuate a generally recognized deference to the state’s will pertaining to domestic relations laws, and, finally, to endorse ‘responsible procreation’—share no rational link with Virginia marriage laws being challenged.”

She added: “The goal and the result of this legislation is to deprive Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens of the opportunity and right to choose to celebrate, in marriage, a loving, rewarding, monogamous relationship with a partner to whom they are committed for life. These results occur without furthering any legitimate state purpose.”

Exciting stuff!! Congratulations, Virginia! Let's hope this appeal moves quickly and is decided in our favor. We've got weddings to plan!