U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Rules Virginia’s Marriage Ban is Unconstitutional
It seems Virginia really is for lovers, after all.
Emily and Charlyn, a Virginia couple, will finally be able to legally marry in their state. More on their engagement and love story here. Photo: Amanda Hedgpeth Photography
Virginia is moving forward in marriage equality now that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va. has affirmed a District Court decision in Bostic v. Schaefer that held Virginia’s ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.
Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, was the first lawsuit in which a federal court of appeals ruled in favor of marriage equality.
The decision also paves the way for West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to strike down their marriage bans as those states are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Marriage equality has been legal in Maryland, the fifth state in the Fourth Circuit, since January 2013.
The decision reads: “We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”
“Today’s decision stands as a testament that all Americans are created equal and denying loving gay and lesbian couples the opportunity to marry is indefensible,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
“Today’s decision recognizes that marriage is one of the most fundamental rights – if not the most fundamental right – of all Americans,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. “This court has affirmed that our plaintiffs – and all gay and lesbian Virginians – no longer have to live as second class citizens who are harmed and demeaned everyday.”
“Each and every milestone in this fight for marriage equality brings Tony and me one step closer to making our dream of being married a reality,” said Plaintiff Tim Bostic. “Our victory today reminds us why we filed this lawsuit – to fight for respect and full equality not only for us, but for all Virginians.”
“The Circuit Court’s decision reminds me of how proud I am to be a Virginian,” said Plaintiff Carol Schall. “Mary and I have lived here for over 40 years, have been in a wonderful relationship for nearly thirty, and have raised a beautiful daughter here in our home state. We could not be more thrilled with the judges’ decision.”
Additional reporting came from AFER: American Foundation for Equal Rights
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