A 1st for South: Va. gay marriage ban overturned

Comment: Off

From left, Robert Roman and Claus Ihlemann of Virginia Beach celebrate with Carol Schall, Mary Townley , Tim Bostic and Tony London, Thursday’s ruling by federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional during a news conference, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Norfolk, Va. Wright Allen on Thursday issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still won’t be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. An appeal will be filed to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which could uphold the ban or side with Wright Allen. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) MAGS OUT

From left, Robert Roman and Claus Ihlemann of Virginia Beach celebrate with Carol Schall, Mary Townley , Tim Bostic and Tony London, Thursday’s ruling by federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional during a news conference, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Norfolk, Va. Wright Allen on Thursday issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still won’t be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. An appeal will be filed to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which could uphold the ban or side with Wright Allen. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) MAGS OUT

From left back row, Carol Schall , Emily Schall-Townley,16, daughter of Schall and Townley and Mary Townley , Tim Bostic and Tony London celebrate the Thursday’s ruling by federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Norfolk, Va. Wright Allen on Thursday issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still won’t be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. An appeal will be filed to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which could uphold the ban or side with Wright Allen. At the bottom of photo is Adam Umhoefer, Executive Director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) MAGS OUT

From left: Carol Schall and Mary Townley celebrate Thursday’s ruling by federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional during a news conference, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Norfolk, Va. Wright Allen on Thursday issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still won’t be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. An appeal will be filed to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which could uphold the ban or side with Wright Allen. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) MAGS OUT

From left: Robert Roman and Claus Ihlemann of Virginia Beach celebrate with Carol Schall, Mary Townley , Tim Bostic and Tony London, Thursday’s ruling by federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional during a news conference, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Norfolk, Va. Wright Allen on Thursday issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still won’t be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. An appeal will be filed to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which could uphold the ban or side with Wright Allen. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) MAGS OUT

From left: Carol Schall and Mary Townley celebrate Thursday’s ruling by federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional during a news conference, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Norfolk, Va. Wright Allen on Thursday issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still won’t be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. An appeal will be filed to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which could uphold the ban or side with Wright Allen. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) MAGS OUT

Buy AP Photo Reprints

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — In a first for the South, Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban has been overturned, with a federal judge ruling that the voter-approved amendment is unconstitutional and declaring the move “another moment history when We the People becomes more inclusive.”

U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen on Thursday issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still won’t be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. Lawyers for the clerks in Norfolk and Prince William County who defended the ban are expected to file the appeal, which will be heard by the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond. It could uphold the ban or side with Wright Allen. If the 4th Circuit sides with overturning the ban, it too could issue a stay while the case is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Both sides believe the case won’t be settled until then — or until the high court rules on a similar case.

Wright Allen’s decision echoes recent rulings elsewhere in the U.S. and is the strongest foothold yet in the South for the gay-marriage movement. On Wednesday, a judge declared that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but didn’t rule on the constitutionality of whether such marriages can be performed in the state.

The office of newly elected Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring took the unusual step of not defending the law because it believes the ban violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In her ruling, Wright Allen agreed.

She struck down the three key arguments offered for denying gay marriages.

“Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family,” Wright Allen wrote.

She also wrote: “Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and

Comments

comments

About the Author