Updated: Federal Judge Strikes VA’s Same-sex Marriage Ban
In a ruling released tonight, a District Judge has struck down Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Attorny General Mark Herring released a statement about the Judge’s decision shortly after the announcement was made.
But that didn’t stop Herring from agreeing with Judge’s statements.
“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,” said Herring.
Herring clarified that this was the first step in a the battle ahead. ”I suspect [the ruling] will be an extended legal process to definitively answer the questions raised in this case… but this decision shows that Virginia, like America, is coming to a better place in recognizing that every Virginian deserves to be treated equally and fairly.”
After the fall of sections of DOMA last summer, states across this nation have seen their bans on same-sex marriage get shut down for constitutional reasons – the 14th amendment, which deals with being treated equally under the law, has been death-strokes for these bans.
Federal Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen issued her ruling late Thursday evening. ”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,” said Judge Allen on the social and historical relevance of the case.
She went on to stress the constitution declares that “all men are created equal” and said the legal system, the judiciary, was often needed to ensure that equality was guaranteed despite popularly approved law. She also compared the struggle for same-sex marriage to the fight over Virginia’s miscegenation issues of the past. “Tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.”
Finally, Judge Wright explains it was the 14th amendment as the reason she over turned the ban.
You can read the entire ruling below:
The ruling struck down the state’s ban, however it kept the ban in place via a stay on an injunction, which would immediately allow same-sex marriages, pending appeal.
Equality Virginia released a statement shortly after the announcement. “Loving lesbian and gay couples will soon be able to marry the person they love in the place they call home!” said ED James Parish in the release. “Today is a historic day for LGBT rights in Virginia. After 25 years of working to change hearts and minds we are finally on the brink of change! This ruling is a huge step forward, but, we still have work to do.”
EV has organized a page for all celebrations around the state – check here to find a party near you!
The next step for the case will be the Federal Appeals Court in Richmond. GayRVA will have more analysis of the ruling tomorrow.
Editors Note: Post originally listed Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen as a District judge; she presides over the district court, but is a Federal Judge.
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