American Foundation for Equal Rights

Federal District Court Hears Arguments in Virginia Marriage Equality Case, Bostic v. Rainey

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AFER’s Legal Team Presents Evidence Demonstrating “Real and Significant” Harm Being Done to Gay and Lesbian Virginians

Norfolk, VA – Today, in a historic milestone for the marriage equality movement, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia heard oral argument for the first time on the  constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage ban through Bostic v. Rainey.  The Plaintiffs in the case, represented by the bipartisan legal team of Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, argued that the provision in the Virginia Constitution that prohibits marriage equality in the state violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring attended Tuesday’s hearing two weeks after announcing his decision not to defend the ban on marriage for Virginia’s same-sex couples.

“As a proud Virginian, I am gratified to represent two loving couples in my home state who want nothing more than to have the state recognize their relationships,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  “Virginia’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples relegates gay and lesbian Virginians to second-class status.  Laws excluding gay men and lesbians from marriage violate personal freedom, are an unnecessary government intrusion, and cause serious harm.  That type of law cannot stand.”

“The United States Supreme Court has stated fourteen times that the freedom to marry 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.  “The denial of that fundamental freedom to marry the person you love and be treated with equal dignity and respect seriously harms gay and lesbian Americans and the children they are raising.”

The Plaintiffs in the case are Tim Bostic, an English professor, and Tony London, a real estate agent, who live in Norfolk and 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 have a sixteen-year-old daughter.  They obtained a marriage license from the State of California in 2008.

“Tony and I want our relationship to be recognized just like everyone else’s. We want to be married,” said Plaintiff Tim Bostic.  “Today’s hearing serves as the first step toward making that dream a reality not just for me and Tony, but for countless other gay and lesbian couples in Virginia and across the nation.”

“We are very grateful for the opportunity to present our case before the court and to share why marriage is important to our family,” said Plaintiff Carol Schall. “As parents, we want the best for our daughter and know that it would mean a lot to her if our family was treated just like every other family. We want that for all Virginians, no matter who they are or who they love.”

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. Rainey.

“Everyone—in Virginia and every other state—should have the freedom to dedicate their life to the person they love, and every state should recognize that right equally among all Americans,” said AFER executive director Adam Umhoefer. “We have presented a strong case for marriage equality, and believe that the court will rule on the side of justice.”

“The argument we made today— that laws prohibiting marriage equality single out gay and lesbian Virginians as unequal under the law—is undeniable,” said Plaintiffs’ co-counsel Tom Shuttleworth of Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock. “I am confident the court will rule that the right to marry the person you love is a fundamental right of all Americans, not just a select few.”

AFER brought together the bipartisan legal team of Olson and Boies to join Shuttleworth to continue the fight for marriage equality through Bostic.  Olson and Boies led the legal team that successfully challenged California’s Proposition 8 through all federal court levels in Hollingsworth v. Perry.  The Supreme Court decision in Perry made permanent the landmark United States District Court ruling that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional and reinstated the freedom to marry for gays and lesbians in California.

The Perry case was the first case involving the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry ever to be fully briefed and argued before the Supreme Court.  Since the Perry case was decided by the Supreme Court, four states, including Virginia, have removed barriers to marriage equality or legalized marriage for same-sex couples.

Since its founding in 2009, AFER has fought for full federal marriage equality for all Americans.


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. Rainey, the federal constitutional challenge to Virginia’s discriminatory and harmful Marriage Amendment. To learn more, visit