American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Marriage equality court victory appealed, case advances in Virginia

Hours before Valentine’s Day, the Federal District Court ruled Virginia’s ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples unconstitutional. The formal judgment has now been entered and the defense immediately filed an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The law is being defended by two county clerks and their legal representation, including the anti-equality group Alliance Defending Freedom, which helped get Prop. 8 on the ballot and is now also promoting legislation recently passed by the Arizona Legislature that would allow business to refuse service to gay couples.

The Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, is expected soon to select at random three judges to hear the appeal and set a briefing schedule.

After successfully arguing against California’s Proposition 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court, the bipartisan legal team led by Ted Olson and David Boies joined a case in Virginia. They represent two couples, Tim Bostic & Tony London, who want to get married after spending nearly 25 years together, and Carol Schall & Mary Townely, who have been together for nearly 30 years and want their home state to recognize their California marriage.

A week after Ted and David argued in Court that Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly harms couples like Tim & Tony and Mary & Carol, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that:

“Our nation’s uneven but dogged journey toward truer and more meaningful freedoms for our citizens has brought us continually to a deeper understanding of the first three words in our Declaration of Independence: we the people. “We the People” have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined.

Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed.  We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.”

The decision is the first of its kind in the South, and the fourth time a federal court has ruled that laws which prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying are unconstitutional. Ted and David and the entire legal team will now prepare their defense of the historic ruling.

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