American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

In the Headlines: 4th Circuit strikes down Virginia marriage ban

On Monday morning, July 28, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld AFER’s district court victory and struck down Virginia’s marriage ban. This is a historic decision as it is the first time the Fourth Circuit has heard a case regarding the freedom the marry and subsequently the first decision in the South to rule in favor of marriage equality.

Front Page News: 

Top Headlines:

Virginia’s Ban on Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional, Court Rules
The New York Times

“Marriage is one of the most fundamental rights — if not the most fundamental right — of all Americans,” David Boies, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “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 every day.”

Appeals court strikes down Va. same-sex marriage ban
Richomnd Times Dispatch

“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 Theodore B. Olson, lead co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Bostic v. Rainey.

Appeals court agrees: Va. gay-marriage ban invalid
The Virginian-Pilot

“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,” Bostic said in a statement.

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The lead plaintiffs in the lead case, Timothy Bostic and Tony London, filed their lawsuit initially in July 2013, in the month after the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling inUnited States v. Windsor. Although initially represented solely by local private attorneys, the American Foundation for Equal Rights — which had successfully challenged California’s Proposition 8 — and their legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies joined the case.

Federal Judges Rule Virginia Marriage Ban Unconstitutional


“The Circuit Court’s decision reminds me of how proud I am to be a Virginian,” said Plaintiff Carol Schall in a statement. “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.”

BREAKING: Federal appeals court strikes down Va. marriage ban

Washington Blade

The 2-1 decision comes slightly more than two months after Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Roger L. Gregory and Henry F. Floyd heard oral arguments in a lawsuit that Tim Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk filed against the marriage amendment last year. Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield joined the Bostic case last September.

Appeals court upholds decision overturning Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban

The Washington Post

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” said Circuit Judge Henry F. Floyd. “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.”

Court: Virginia same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional


“Neither Virginia’s federalism-based interest in defining marriage nor our respect for the democratic process that codified that definition can excuse the Virginia Marriage Laws’ infringement of the right to marry,” Judge Henry Floyd wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Roger Gregory

Second Appeals Court Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban

NBC News

Two high-profile lawyers, Ted Olson and David Boies, argued the Virginia case before the appeals court in May. They earlier led the legal fight against California’s Proposition 8, which ended in a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that invalidated that state’s ban.

Appeals court strikes down Virginia gay marriage ban


[The case] brings together the legal forces of virtually every group responsible for the major gay rights victories of the last twenty years, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, Jenner & Block’s Paul Smith, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) – the organization that spearheaded last year’s high-profile Proposition 8 case, which returned marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples living in California.

A Wider Impact

The decision has had an impact beyond just Virginia. The ruling paves the way for marriage bans to be struck down in West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina as those states lie under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

After the decision was handed down, North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper announced he would no longer defend the state’s ban: “Simply put, it is time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward.”