A federal judge declared Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional last night, overturning a state constitutional amendment added by voters in 2006 and ruling that Virginia must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
“The plaintiffs [two same-sex couples] ask for nothing more than to exercise a right that is enjoyed by the vast majority of Virginia’s adult citizens,” Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen wrote. “They seek simply the same right that is currently enjoyed by heterosexual individuals: the right to make a public commitment to form an exclusive relationship and create a family with a partner with whom the person shares an intimate and sustaining emotional bond.”
The decision is stayed pending appeal, meaning same-sex couples will not be able to marry until the case is resolved in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The state did not want couples to marry then have their marriages temporarily halted by an appeal, like what happened in Utah.
Because federal courts in several states, including Kentucky and Oklahoma, have voided similar same-sex marriage bans, the Supreme Court is also expected to take up the case soon.
Media Resources: The New York Times 2/14/14; Associated Press 2/14/14; Mother Jones 2/14/14; Feminist Newswire 1/6/14, 1/15/14