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Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, federal judge says

Elected last November, Attorney General Mark Herring brought the issue of gay marriage to the forefront of public debate in Virginia in January when he announced the commonwealth would side with two same-sex couples in a lawsuit challenging the commonwealth’s ban. Photo Courtesy/Facebook
Same-sex couples and friends of the LGBT community received a couple-hours-early Valentine's Day present Feb. 13 when a federal district judge declared Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen 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.

Gay couples can't yet be married, however, because Ms. Wright Allen issued a stay with her injunction pending appeal, according Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

"This decision is a victory for the Constitution and for treating everyone equally under the law. It is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love." Mr. Herring said Feb. 13 in a prepared statement. “When we announced the decision to change Virginia's legal position in Bostic v. Rainey, I said that the case presented fundamental questions that need to be decided by a court, and may ultimately need to be decided by the Supreme Court. That remains true today.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said Feb. 17 it's expected the defendants in the landmark case will appeal, but that determination had yet to be announced.

"A spirited and controversial debate is underway regarding who may enjoy the right to marry in the United States of America," Ms. Wright Allen noted in her opinion. "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. The ultimate exercise of our freedom is choice. Our Constitution declares that 'all men' are created equal. Surely this means all of us."

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment – the same-sex marriage ban – 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006, but a Quinnipiac University poll in July found that 50 percent of registered Virginia voters support same-sex marriage, while 43 percent oppose it, according to the Associated Press.

Seventeen states currently allow same-sex marriage.

Elected last November, Mr. Herring brought the issue of gay marriage to the forefront of public debate in Virginia in January when he announced the commonwealth would side with two same-sex couples in a lawsuit challenging the commonwealth's ban. The state's previous position, established by former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican, was to defend the ban and argue against the same-sex couples.

"As Virginians, we have much to be proud of," Mr. Herring said. "But too many times in our history our citizens have had to lead the way on civil rights, while their leaders stood against them. This will not be another instance. It's time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law."

The first attorney general elected from Loudoun County, Mr. Herring told the Times-Mirror last year he believes the gay marriage ban in Virginia goes against the U.S. Constitution, despite a 2006 vote supporting the gay marriage restriction in the commonwealth's constitution.

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe echoed Mr. Herring's message of equal rights and praise for Judge Allen Wright's ruling.

“In order to grow our economy and attract the best businesses, entrepreneurs, and families to Virginia, we must be open and welcoming to all who call our commonwealth home,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “As this case continues through the judicial process, I will enforce the laws currently on the books, but this decision is a significant step forward in achieving greater equality for all of our citizens.”

State Del. Bob Marshall, a Manassas Republican who helped author the same-sex marriage ban, quickly lashed out against Ms. Allen Wright's opinion.

“The decision issued by federal district Judge Wright Allen appropriately issued in the cover of darkness is a syllabus of errors, a compendium of ineptitude, and a farce claiming authority,” Mr. Marshall noted in a statement. “Legislating through the Courts against the will of the people is lawless disregard for our representative form of government.”

Loudoun County resident and vocal LGBT activist David Weintraub said he “knew back in 2006 that [Ms. Allen Wright's ruling] would be the eventual result.” The Marshall-Newman Amendment “was unconstitutional the day it was enacted,” Mr. Weintraub said.

“I thought the ruling might come on Valentine's Day - so it's a bit early, and a wonderful gift,” he noted. “There's a good chance this is the one that will end up before the Supreme Court, which is fitting.”

Mr. Weintraub and his partner Jonathan have been together for more than 30 years and held “several religious [marriage] ceremonies of different faiths,” he said.

“And for those of us who fought this battle and were on the losing side for so many years, this is pretty sweet vindication."


Click here to read the judge's ruling.

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This story has been updated from an earlier version. More updates, reaction to come.

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Comments


Jehovah Jireh | Report this comment

westLOUDOUNer:  your line of reasoning fails because if it’s OK to “redefine” marriage so that two men who “love” each other can get married, why can’t that apply to other situations?  Why wouldn’t you be clamoring for a polygamist’s right to marry more than one woman, or marriage between a grown man and a 13-year old girl

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Polygamy is in the bible; we however made it a crime because it leads to abuse of women by men.

Minors cannot consent to have sex or marry so any comparison there is idiotic. However you can marry a minor in most states with the parents consent and that does go as low as 13 in some states.

However what you did is compare two crimes to a thing that is legal. Gay sex has not been illegal anywhere in the USA for over 11 years now.

Society changes and already gays have the small minority but gain ground every year.


drellis

“Also the “redefine marriage” argument is horse poop.”

You wish to nullify a law that defines marriage as a “union between one man and one woman” so isn’t that the same thing as trying to redefine marriage?

——————————————————————-

Why did the anti gay marriage need to rush out and make such laws in the mid 2000s, oh that’s right because there was not definition of man and woman before then in place and they wanted to unconstitutionally block gays from being included. Now these laws are getting over turned one by one in federal court.


westLOUDOUNer:  your line of reasoning fails because if it’s OK to “redefine” marriage so that two men who “love” each other can get married, why can’t that apply to other situations?  Why wouldn’t you be clamoring for a polygamist’s right to marry more than one woman, or marriage between a grown man and a 13-year old girl (as long as they “love” each other)?  Where do you draw the line at what is love, and what is perversion?  In your own words, “the US is a diverse country”—so surely you would extend your viewpoint to include Muslim men who want to marry young girls and Mormons who want to marry more than one wife?  I am not being glib—I’m merely carrying your rationale out.


Definition:  Domestic Union or Domestic Contract, the legal joining of two or more individuals.  You can call it whatever you like.


drellis

“You keep defining marriage as it is defined in the Bible…”

So if we don’t base the definition of marriage on the Bible, what do we base it on?  The institution of marriage has been in existence about 3000 years and marriage has always been between a man and a woman.

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Marriage is a word meaning to merge two things, that is all.

You are talking about what society sees as a proper marriage, that has changed over and over and over again even in the bible. No longer is it okay to rape a woman so long as you agree to marry her after. Men cannot take multiple wives. Men are not required to marry the widow of our brothers. The church did not even evolve themselves in weddings until the 14th century in western Europe. Before then a couple just got together. In Viking culture one just said we are married, they could also divorce just as easy.

Welcome to the 21st century, societies in the first world are allowing gays to form households now.


“support of gay equality is growing at a rapid pace.”

Sadly I agree with you but in my opinion, that still doesn’t make it right.

“Also the “redefine marriage” argument is horse poop.”

You wish to nullify a law that defines marriage as a “union between one man and one woman” so isn’t that the same thing as trying to redefine marriage?


“You keep defining marriage as it is defined in the Bible…”

So if we don’t base the definition of marriage on the Bible, what do we base it on?  The institution of marriage has been in existence about 3000 years and marriage has always been between a man and a woman. From now on, should we whimsically “define” marriage according whatever the latest generation wants to say it should be?


drellis | Report this comment

“Jeanne T. Thanks for spamming us with hateful nonsense. People in 50 years will see the folks fighting against gay equality as they see the people who use the bible to fight against racial equality.”

Another spurious and ignorant comment.  Approximately half of the population of the United States oppose legalizing same-sex marriage; you have absolutely no idea how all these millions and millions of people will be “judged” 50 years from now!

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Less than 16% wanted it in 1993 now its 52% as up Gallups 2013 pool and only 43% oppose nation wide.

Even Quinnipiac (conservative university polls, if you don’t know) finds that in VA 50% support gay marriage while only 43% oppose up from 57% against to 43% for in 2006. The numbers don’t lie support of gay equality is growing at a rapid pace.

Also the “redefine marriage” argument is horse poop. The definition of marriage is simply merging to things. You don’t like culture shifting to accept gay marriages. Marriage is not owned by religion or by heterosexuals. Its a word meaning to merge things in the human context households and can apply just as easy to a man and woman as to a woman and woman or man and man.


“Actually, I think a lot of us have a pretty good idea as to exactly how that’s going to go.”

No, I don’t think you do…and frankly neither do I.


JJ & drell - This is a Constitutional issue, not a Bible issue.  You keep defining marriage as it is defined in the Bible and it has no place in interpreting the Constitution which separates religion & state.  The US is a diverse country with multiple religions or non/no religions and the laws are enacted to apply equally to all, not the few, not the majority, but all. Do you have a problem with using the term Domestic Union in place of marriage?  Would you agree with equal treatment under a domestic order regardless of gender or familial relationship?


“Approximately half of the population of the United States oppose legalizing same-sex marriage.”

When my high-school cafeteria took pepperoni out of its pizza recipe to save money, the weekly menu changed from “pizza” to “pizza with cheese!” You’re doing the same thing, by pointing to 50% of the population taking a view you like, while ignoring that the trend has been consistently down (from about 70% with that view) over the last 20 years. And still falling, btw.

“you have absolutely no idea how all these millions and millions of people will be ‘judged’ 50 years from now!”

Actually, I think a lot of us have a pretty good idea as to exactly how that’s going to go.


Agreed, drellis.  Just because you’re attracted to a member of the opposite sex does not give you the “right” to redefine marriage.  Homosexuality is not the same as race or gender.  Legalizing inter-racial marriage was absolutely the right thing to do because it was still keeping marriage between one man and one woman.  (And if you read the Bible then you know that we are all descended from one race anyway.)


As I read some of the “pro-gay” comments here there seems to be this notion that if you support Virginia’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, then you must be a bigot or a homophobe or whatever.  That’s quite a cognitive “leap” to make!  I am not a bigot and I certainly do not hate gays for being gay, yet I am staunchly opposed to any efforts on the part of gays to redefine marriage to accommodate their peculiar lifestyle(and I mean peculiar in a literal sense, not a pejorative one).


“Jeanne T. Thanks for spamming us with hateful nonsense. People in 50 years will see the folks fighting against gay equality as they see the people who use the bible to fight against racial equality.”

Another spurious and ignorant comment.  Approximately half of the population of the United States oppose legalizing same-sex marriage; you have absolutely no idea how all these millions and millions of people will be “judged” 50 years from now!


Jeanne T. Thanks for spamming us with hateful nonsense. People in 50 years will see the folks fighting against gay equality as they see the people who use the bible to fight against racial equality.


“Antigone went forth with giving her brother a proper burial at the cost of her life. Thoreau went to jail for not paying taxes to support the Mexican-American War. He only spent one night there, and so comparatively got off easy, but that is only because the tax was paid by someone else over Thoreau’s objections. Both Gandhi and King were assassinated. There is a price to pay for bucking the system, and this the business owners exercising their right to conscience know well. Death threats, intimidation and court-levied fines are the order of the day, and more may yet come.

“But even as those who are pushing the gay rights and gay marriage agenda tout the successes of the Civil Rights movement, harnessing it for their own purposes and own ends, they do it a disservice. By appealing to government to coerce businesses and individuals they undermine the most dramatic achievements of that very movement. They prove themselves utterly divested from the classical liberalism that is their heritage and which espouses the very methods that the A&T Four pursued in Greensboro, and that the boycotters of the Montgomery Bus System used. The respect for King’s appeal to a law higher than that of man is completely disregarded.”

http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/02/gay_marriage_and_the_next_round_of_civil_disobedience.html


Yet in the Loving vs Virginia case, SCOTUS used “the 14th’s Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause to strike down the VA law prohibiting interracial ‘‘couples’’ from marrying. There is precedence.”

Perhaps, but a lot depends on whether the Supreme Court will accept the Warren Court’s overly broad interpretation of 14th Amendment “due process” AND whether the Court will find any legal distinction between same-sex marriage and interracial marriage.


“Who makes up a married couple? Two persons”

Wrong answer again west!  Virginia’s constitution says “one man and one woman.”


westLOUDOUNer, I’m sure you are sincere in your beliefs even if your judgment and reasoning are ill-served by them.


“Your argument that a person has the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, even though they wish otherwise is laughable.”

I was trying to illustrate a point that you obviously failed to grasp. Under the law, neither a straight person nor a gay person can marry a person of the same sex…EQUAL protection.

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