The Fight for Same-Sex Marriage Comes to Richmond Federal Court
This post will be updated throughout the day as news comes in. Check back regularly for updates.
As three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth District prepared to hear arguments in a case to decide the future of marriage equality in Virginia, protesters on both sides of the issue clashed outside the Lewis Powell Courthouse in downtown Richmond.
Activists supporting marriage equality made a strong showing early in the day. “We’re here because we believe that the love that two men or two women have for each other is sacred,” said Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline, president of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia. “We hope to hear a good, strong ruling like the one out in Norfolk.”
About three Busses worth of people have pulled up to the court house.
Some of the activists are associated with the Family Foundation, while others have come from the Shenandoah Valley to protest.
“We’re here to show with our presence that there are two sides to the story,” said Bill Heipp of Midlothian. “We’re not here because we hate gays.”
John Sloop, chaplain for the Valley Family Forum based in Harrisonburg, said that the activists hoped that the appeals court would overturn the Norfolk judge’s ruling. “We believe the law’s being broken; the will of the people is being countermanded,” he said.
“It’s not a judge’s place to change the law,” Barbara Herath of Charlottesville added.
Chanting has begun including “Homo-sex is sin!”
The court will hear the appeal in the Bostic v. Rainey, a lawsuit filed by a gay Norfolk couple after they were denied a marriage license on July 1, 2013. The defendants in the case, Virginia’s state registrar of vital record, Janet Rainey, and George Schaefer, the clerk of the circuit court for the City of Norfolk, refused to issue a license to Timothy Bostic and Tony London because the 2006 voter-approved Marshall-Newman Amendment which prohibits same-sex marriage in the commonwealth.
On February 13 of this year, Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen handed down a decision that ruled the Marshall-Newman Amendment unconstitutional. By that point, a Chesterfield County lesbian couple, Carol Schall and Mary Townley, as well as “all of the estimated 14,000 same-sex couples in the state had joined the case as plaintiffs with the ACLU and Lambda Legal as legal council in the class action lawsuit against the state. The Bostic will be represented by Ted Olson and David Boies, the two attorneys who famously argued on opposite in Bush v. Gore in 2000, and have since teamed up to support marriage equality in legal cases throughout the country.
Even more notably, Attorney General Mark Herring declined to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in court, saying that he believed it violated the U.S. Constitution.
Since the Valentine’s Day Eve decision, supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage in Virginia have clashed in the media, however this is the first day the two have meet in person.
A decision is expected within a few weeks following today’s hearing, however this case, as well as same-sex marriages across the nation, are expected to be heard by the Supreme Court in the next year.
The largest paper in the city, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, honored one stand out citizen from RVA for the second year in a row today, and while mayor elect Levar Stoney took the big prize, Diversity Richmond’s President Bill Harrison was among those nominated. “I’m quite humbled I am one of the most blessed people I [...]December 8, 2016
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