Expect A Ruling Soon In The Case That Might Settle Marriage Equality For Good

GayWeddingIn what promises to be the court case that will settle the issue of marriage equality once and for all, a federal district court judge heard arguments Tuesday in a challenge to Virginia’s ban on same-sex weddings, promising a speedy ruling.

“You’ll be hearing from me soon,” Judge Arenda Wright Allen said at the conclusion of oral arguments, stressing the word “soon.” Wright Allen was appointed to the bench by President Obama.

The Virginia case is significant because the challenge is being argued by Theodore Olsen and David Boies, the attorneys who were responsible for the successful Supreme Court challenge to California’s Proposition 8 last year. Olsen and Boies have specifically targeted the Virginia challenge as the one to bring to the Supreme Court to force it to make marriage equality the law of the land and not just 17 states.

The state itself argues that the ban should go. Attorney General Mark Herring recently announced that he wanted Virginia to be “on the right side of history,” which was the very argument made in court by Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael.

“We are not going to make the mistakes our predecessors made,” Raphael said, referring to the state’s past defense of segregation and a ban on interracial marriage.

In the absence of the state, defense of the ban fell to attorneys representing clerks from two counties. One of the attorneys, Austin Nimocks of the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, told Wright Allen that “we have marriage laws in society because we have children, not because we have adults.” The other attorney, David Oakley, acknowledged that public opinion may have changed since the ban was passed in 2006, but that it was up to the legislature and voters to remedy it.

By contrast, Olsen argued that the discrimination the ban causes demands court action. “Virginia erects a wall around its gay and lesbian citizens, excluding them from the most important relation in life,” Olson said.

Virginia’s not the only place busy with court activity. The state of Utah has filed its argument appealing a federal court judge striking down its marriage ban. Ironically, the state is depending on just the issue that Olsen and Boies want to address: that the Supreme Court basically allowed states to discriminate if they so wish, or in Utah’s weasel words, “a diversity of outcomes.”

Utah also argues that the religious freedom of opponents of same-sex marriage carry more weight than equality.

“These beliefs are tied not only to theology but also to religious and family practices, deeply and sincerely held personal beliefs, and entire ways of life,” the state said. “They are not less integral to the dignity and identities of millions of Utah citizens than plaintiffs’ sexual orientation is to them.”

And yet another court challenge has been filed against a marriage ban, this time in Wisconsin. Four couples there are suing the state, saying that it’s 2006 ban unfairly prevents them from federal protections.

It’s going to be a busy year for the lawyers.


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  • dutchman67

    Let Freedom Ring. Let’s end this Homophobia and Inequality before the Law.

  • dvlaries

    Wish me luck. We already did it Maryland on Dec. 27, but it’ll be nice to be legal at home.

  • samwise343

    They made this same argument when it came to slavery and interracial marriage. Didn’t work then; won’t work now.

  • CCTR

    Huge thanks to the lawyers and judges making these positive changes!!!!

  • SteveDenver

    If you haven’t seen or heard Olson and Boies, or know the background of these two champions of equal rights, Bill Moyers had a spectacular program with the two. They are modern-day HEROES!

    It’s so interesting to find out Utah is claiming that religious freedom to discriminate trumps individual equal rights. How about the religious freedom of those who support marriage equality? I’m not religious, but I have sung at 19 gay and lesbian weddings in GLBT-affirming churches performed by accepting clergy. Do those people have no civil rights because the loudest religious voices happen to be mean and intolerant?

  • BlackHouston

    Great, hopefully wit marriage aside, we can we finally start addressing the real issues of discrimination within the LGBT community. Gay liberation is a global struggle!

  • Dakotahgeo

    “Soon” cannot possibly happen soon enough! We SHALL overcome bigotry and hate in my lifetime!

  • Daniel-Reader

    The religious freedom argument is of course irrational. The bible says disrespectful children must be put to death. That passage is no more or no less part of Judeo-Christian-Islamic scripture than any other passage. Yet one could not rationally argue the right to violate other people’s rights to carry out that religious edict. Inflicting one’s religion onto others is not an expression of religious freedom. If it were, then the millions of people experiencing human rights violations would simply execute religious leaders and rightwing leaders who violate human rights and in a single day end all the human rights violations once and for all under the religious edict of eye for an eye, injury for an injury, life for a life. That is why the religious freedom argument holds no water in violating other people’s right to equality and human rights.

  • crazycorgi

    “You’ll be hearing from me soon,” Judge Arenda Wright Allen said at the conclusion of oral arguments, stressing the word “soon.”

    Even if Judge Allen does the right thing and overturns the marriage ban in Virginia the ruling will immediately be stayed. There will be no same sex marriages being celebrated in Virginia because the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom will immediately want their appeal. These hateful religious bigots are going to go down kicking and screaming, and will try and do everything they can to get their way on this issue. It will not end until the Supreme Court finally grows some balls and addresses this issue nationwide. Even then, if the Supreme Court does rule that same sex marriage must be the law of the land, you can bet that every year there will be a GOP/TP push to amend the Constitution banning it. This is a fight that will never end.

  • TheNewEnergyDude

    @crazycorgi: Sadly, I have to agree with you.

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  • NoelG

    @crazycorgi: Of course the bigots will immediately appeal but that doesn’t make a stay automatic. The Supreme Court has essentially handed the issue off to the lower courts with an argument that has practically laid the blueprint down on how to make the case FOR marriage equality.

  • Mezaien

    Arenda Wright Allen, just pass the right judgment! for what is right! men can love men!.

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