BREAKING: Virginia’s Marriage Equality Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

GayWeddingIn yet another blow to opponents of marriage equality, a federal judge ruled late Thursday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, passed by voters in 2006, was unconstitutional. The decision came just a week after U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen heard arguments in the case.

“Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships,” Wright Allen wrote in her decision. “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.”

However, the ruling doesn’t mean marriages can happen immediately. Wright Allen issued a stay with her decision until the Supreme Court rules on the case. The Virginia case has been chosen by Theodore Olsen and David Boies, the attorneys who brought the challenge to California’s Prop 8 to the Supreme Court last year, as the case that can settle marriage equality once and for all.

To place her decision in context, Wright Allen began her decision by quoting Mildred Loving. In a famous 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving and her husband successfully challenged Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages. In announcing last month that the state would not defend the marriage ban, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring specifically cited the Loving case as an example of the state not being “on the right side of history.”

The ruling comes just one day after a federal judge ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex couples wed elsewhere and hinted broadly that that state’s ban on marriages wouldn’t withstand a legal challenge. Federal judges have also struck down marriage equality bans in Oklahoma and Utah, while opponents of marriage equality have yet to win in federal court since last year’s Supreme Court ruling.

“There has been a fundamental shift in the legal landscape,” said Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry. “America is ready for the freedom to marry and those couples in Virginia, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, are ready to marry.”

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  • dvlaries

    Me and the hubby of 37 and a half years did it in Maryland last 12/27, but now we’re gonna be legal at home.
    As I understand it, for the Supreme Court to even choose to hear it, let alone say anything contradictory to Wright Allen’s ruling, would be to oppose their own opinion of just barely over 7 months ago.

  • Taliaferro

    I have long felt that once Virginia fell, the rest of the country would follow. Virgina has a history of leading the country, dating back to the Revelution. We take time but we eventurally do what is right. The right wingnuts will scream and froth at the mouth, but they are losing their power and are dying off.

  • Harley

    My my my. What is the tea party going to do now. Maybe bring pukin Putin over to help them craft some of those nice anti-propaganda laws to help save our children. Maybe even dust off that ole cow Anita Bryant and put her on a float in Miami. There has to be some legal trickery they can conjure up to stop the “insanity”.

  • tdx3fan

    Truth be known, I think that the Democratic party has a lot more to lose by the legalization of equality. There are plenty of people that vote Democratic simply because of the gay rights issue.

    If the gay rights issue was not an issue at all, I would most definitely vote Republican because I completely disagree with every single aspect of the Democratic platform except for gay rights. Since that is my leading issue, I am proudly Democratic until the Republicans wake up and dump their “religious values.”

  • Scribe38

    @tdx3fan: People with common sense remember who oppressed them. Blacks still have not forgotten the political group who fought against civil rights. Women do not forget which party uses terms like legitimate rape. Mexicans will not forget the political group who came up with the term anchor babies. I would never vote for a group who does not feel I am a member of the human race. The GOP is not the party of human rights,just the party of old white guys. They will never accept you brother, get over it and move on.

  • Ken

    I do not understand how a stay makes sense: The judge rules that the status quo harms the plaintiffs, but lets the status quo stand just in case a higher court permits the defendant to harm the plaintiff. This is contradictory. Has a teacher ever told a gang of students, “Beating Billy up could send him to the hospital, but carry on, just in case the principal gives you permission”?

    Do the judges believe their judgements or not?

  • Ken

    @RobertJohns: The law allows a person to make up a religion on the spot that permits discrimination. When sued, the defendant does not need to prove that they belong to a church that has a written policy requiring all its members to discriminate against gays. (The law allowing conscientious objector status has a requirement like that.) What happens if a person dies because an ICU nurse thought he was gay, and it turns out that he was not?

  • misterhollywood

    It will be interesting to see where this one will potentially go. Glad however to read this as it is welcome news!The states who enacted these laws through the legislature or through other means really missed the boat on how the general public would eventually feel about marriage equality.

    Can we really say the VA is a “red state” anymore by the way? I see people in some places still think of it this way.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    tdx3fan, Please think about what you are saying. Just look at the Supreme Court justices that Republicans have placed on the bench.

  • sangsue


    Actually, I’d say that the American Family Association wrote those laws for Russia, along with what they drafted for Uganda and other African countries.

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