U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk Thursday ruled same-sex couples in Virginia have been denied their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, essentially striking down the commonwealth's ban on same-sex marriage. Here are 10 excerpts from Ms. Wright Allen's opinion:
1.) Our nation's uneven but dogged journey toward truer and more meaningful freedoms for our citizens has brought us continually to a deeper understanding of the first three words in our Constitution: we the people. "We the People" have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined.
2.) The right to marry is inseparable from our rights to privacy and intimate association.
3.) In April 2012, [Plaintiffs] Ms. Schall and Ms.Townley sought to renew [their daughter's] passport, a process that requests the consent of both parents. When Ms. Schall and Ms. Townley presented the passport renewal forms on behalf of their daughter, a civil servant at a United States Post Office in Virginia told Ms. Schall that "You're nobody, you don't matter."
4.) Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed.
5.) A spirited and controversial debate is underway regarding who may enjoy the right to marry in the United States of America. America has pursued a journey to make and keep our citizens free. This journey has never been easy, and at times has been painful and poignant.
6.) Virginia's former Attorney General directed colleges and universities in the Commonwealth to eliminate protections that had been in place regarding '"sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' 'gender expression,' or like classification" from the institutions' non-discrimination policies ... This record alone gives rise to suspicions of prejudice sufficient to decline to defer to the state on this matter.
7.) Virginia's Marriage Laws fail to display a rational relationship to a legitimate purpose, and so must be viewed as constitutionally in firm under even the least onerous level of scrutiny. Accordingly, this Court need not address Plaintiffs' compelling arguments that the Laws should be subjected to heightened scrutiny.
8.) Plaintiffs Schall and Townley suffer humiliation and discriminatory treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation. This stigmatic harm flows directly from current state law.
9.) The inescapable conclusion regarding the Commonwealth's interest in tradition is that an adherence to a historical definition of traditional marriage is desired to avoid "radical changes" that would result in the diminishing one common, long-held view of what marriage means. The Supreme Court has rejected the assertion that a prevailing moral conviction can, alone, justify upholding a constitutionally infirm law: '"the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice; neither history nor tradition could save a law prohibiting miscegenation from constitutional attack.'" Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 577-78 (2003)
10.) Our Constitution declares that "all men" are created equal. Surely this means all of us.