American Foundation for Equal Rights

Federal Court of Appeals Hears Arguments in Virginia Marriage Equality Case, Bostic v. Schaefer


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Richmond, VA – Today, in a historic milestone for the marriage equality movement, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard oral argument for the first time on the constitutionality of whether gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in February in Bostic v. Schaefer that laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying in the state are unconstitutional as they violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The plaintiffs, represented by the bipartisan legal team of Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, defended their District Court victory and asked the Court of Appeals to affirm that gay and lesbian couples are due their fundamental right to marry.

“Today, the Fourth Circuit heard precisely why our plaintiffs and gay men and lesbians across the country are entitled to exercise their fundamental right to marry.  Our plaintiffs have shared decades of love and commitment, and they desire nothing more than to have their home state recognize those relationships,” said lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. “Tim & Tony and Carol & Mary are asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to honor their fundamental freedom to marry and to treat them with equal dignity and respect under the law.”

“Our plaintiffs represent thousands of Virginians – and millions of Americans – who have been denied their fundamental right to marry the person whom they love,” said lead co-counsel David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. “These discriminatory laws excluding loving gay and lesbian couples from marriage violate their personal freedom and cause them and their families serious harm.”

Tim Bostic, an English professor, and Tony London, a real estate agent, of Norfolk have been together for 24 years. They are joined by Carol Schall, an autism researcher, and Mary Townley, who also works with special needs youth, from Richmond. Carol and Mary have been together for 28 years and are raising a 16-year-old daughter. They obtained a marriage license from the State of California in 2008.

“We are a family, always have been, always will be,” said Plaintiff Carol Schall. “Our family is founded on love and trust, and we just want Virginia to acknowledge that simple and profound truth.”

“For me, my friends, teachers, coaches, and everyone else who knows me, this is my family,” said Emily Schall-Townley, daughter of Plaintiffs Carol and Mary. “I have been and continue to be raised in a loving, nurturing supportive family.”

“When Tony and I filed this lawsuit, it was very personal,” said Plaintiff Tim Bostic. “However, the time has come to fight for marriage equality not only for us, but for every loving gay and lesbian couple in our state – and hopefully for every American.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which successfully sponsored the constitutional challenge that eliminated California’s Proposition 8, is the sole sponsor of Bostic v. Schaefer.

“We have reached another historic milestone in the fight for marriage equality,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. “I am hopeful the Court will uphold our District Court victory and affirm that every gay and lesbian American must be treated equally under the law. Denying a fundamental right to thousands of loving couples like our plaintiffs, and their families, is indefensible.”

Today’s appeal of the District Court’s February 13th decision was heard by a three-judge panel: Judge Henry F. Floyd, Judge Roger L. Gregory, and Judge Paul V. Niemeyer.


About the American Foundation for Equal Rights

Since its founding in 2009, the American Foundation for Equal Rights has fought for full federal marriage equality for all Americans.  As the sole sponsor of the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, AFER brought together bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to secure a victory at the United States Supreme Court that restored marriage equality to our nation’s most populous state.  AFER continues its legacy of fighting for marriage equality for all Americans through Bostic v. Schaefer, the federal constitutional challenge in which a Federal District Court ruled unconstitutional all laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying in the Commonwealth of Virginia. To learn more, visit