Two Virginia couples filled a federal class action lawsuit Thursday against the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban. The case will be litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, who will argue that Virginia’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is federally unconstitutional.
The Virginia ban is considered one of the most stringent in the country, outlawing not only marriage, but civil unions, partnership contracts, and other provisions that seek to give legal rights to partners. Virginia also does not recognize marriages and or civil unions from states where it is legal. This is the second case to be filed since the Supreme Court ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June.
Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester and Jessica Duff and Joanne Harris of Staunton are the complainants in the case. Both couples have a young child. “I’m an Air Force veteran, and if Virginia would just respect our marriage from D.C., it would ensure that my spouse and family could access all the benefits I’ve earned,” said Berghoff, a U.S. Justice Department employee.
According to Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, the case will likely be heard by one of two sitting district judges in Roanoke and he thinks there is a chance for success. “I think a district judge in Virginia could read the language of the DOMA case in a way that would lead to the invalidation of the Virginia ban,” he said.
Media Resources: Christian Science Monitor 8/1/2013; Virginian Pilot 8/1/2013; Washington Blade 8/1/2013; Washington Post 8/1/2013