American Foundation for Equal Rights

The Bostic Case

The Lawsuit

On July 1, 2013 Timothy B. Bostic and his partner Tony C. London sought to obtain a marriage license at the Norfolk Circuit Court but were turned down because of the state’s ban on marriage equality. The couple then filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. They are joined by Carol Schall and Mary Townley. On February 13, 2014, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs declaring that laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying are unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the decision in a ruling handed down on July 28, 2014.

The Plaintiffs-Appellees

Tim Bostic and Tony London have been together for nearly 25 years. They want the respect, dignity and protections that come with marriage. Meet Tim & Tony >

Carol Schall and Mary Townley have been together for 30 years and are raising a teenage daughter. They were married in California in 2008, and now seek to have their union recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Meet Carol & Mary >

The Defendants

Janet M. Rainey and George E. Schaefer, III, serve as defendants-appellants in their official capacities as State Registrar of Vital Records and the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk. Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg is an intervenor defendant-appellant.

The Law

In November 2006, a majority of Virginia voters ratified the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the State Constitution. This Amendment, which defines marriage as a union between “one man and one woman,” deprives gay and lesbian individuals of the right to marry. The Commonwealth of Virginia has imposed sweeping restrictions that prevent gay and lesbian individuals not only from marrying, but from participating in any of the rights or benefits of marriage. While they may receive federal benefits and protections, legally married gay or lesbian couples are treated as legal strangers under Virginia law.

The Arguments

The “freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”-Loving v. Virginia

Fourteen times, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that marriage is “the most important relation in life,” and that the right to marry is “one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.”

The unequal treatment of gay and lesbian couples in Virginia denies them the equal protection rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.