American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage Equality Comes to Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Indiana as Supreme Court Declines Review of Marriage Equality Cases

Nicholas Graham: (703) 863-3373 or
AFER Office: (323) 892-2081

Washington, DC –Today, the United States Supreme Court denied review of all petitions for writ of certiorari in all cases regarding the question of marriage equality, including Bostic v. Schaefer, the federal constitutional challenge to Virginia’s marriage ban.

With today’s Supreme Court order, gay and lesbian couples in Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin, Indiana and Oklahoma will be able to marry once the appellate courts’ mandates are officially issued – a victory of national significance for thousands of gay and lesbian couples and their children across the United States.

On July 28, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concluded that Virginia’s marriage ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, affirming the February 2014 judgment that initially struck down Virginia’s Marriage Amendment.  The defendants recently asked the Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s judgment.  The Supreme Court’s decision today not to grant review makes the Fourth Circuit’s decision final, bringing marriage equality to the first state in the South.

“This is a momentous victory for the constitutional promise of equality, dignity and justice for all Americans,” said Theodore B. Olson of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Plaintiff’s lead co-counsel. “Today, I am proud to call myself a Virginian. With the Commonwealth’s discriminatory marriage ban finally and conclusively struck down, we are one giant step closer to the day that all Americans, not just Virginians, can enjoy their right to marriage equality under the law.”

“Those who drew and ratified our Constitution over two centuries ago set out to form a more perfect Union. Today, that goal has once again been realized,” said Plaintiff’s lead co-counsel David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. “The unjust and unlawful discrimination imposed by laws like Virginia’s marriage ban have seen their final days. Our Constitution promises freedom and justice for all, and today that promise was fulfilled for thousands of gay and lesbian Virginians and their families.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the primary sponsor of the Bostic case. AFER brought together the bipartisan legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies to fight California’s Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Perry was the first case involving the right to marry for gay and lesbian Americans to be fully briefed and argued before the Supreme Court, and the first case in which a U.S. Court of Appeals found a state’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

“A majority of Americans, more than 30 state and federal courts, scores of political and religious leaders, countless Fortune 500 Companies, and our President have all long believed in the promise of equality for gay and lesbian Americans,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. “While today brings justice to 5 more states, there are still 26 states that treat their gay and lesbian neighbors like second-class citizens. We hope that the Supreme Court’s order today will lead to all 50 states enjoying the freedom to marry very soon.”

“What a great day to be a Virginian, and a great day to be an American,” said Plaintiff Tim Bostic. “Today, we have made history in the South, and I can’t wait for the day that all of our fellow Americans feel the same way and have the same rights that we do today.”

“Because of this decision, one of my most important dreams has finally come true: The dream that my family will be recognized just like every other family in Virginia,” said Emily, daughter of plaintiffs Carol Schall and Mary Townley. “I am so thankful that other children like me can finally hold their heads high knowing their families matter and are finally equal. I cannot wait for the day that all American kids, no matter where they live and no matter who their parents are, are treated equally.”

“This is a wonderful day for our clients and all Virginians,” said Tom Shuttleworth of Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock, who also represented the Plaintiffs. “I am proud that Virginia has joined the other 19 states on the right side of history. It has been a great honor and privilege for our firm and team of exceptional lawyers to help lead this amazing journey from its beginning days in Norfolk, Virginia.”

In August 2014, each defendant asked the Supreme Court to review the July 28, 2014 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the February 2014 judgment that struck down Virginia’s Marriage Amendment.

In July 2014, the Circuit Court held:

“The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”

The Supreme Court’s denial of defendants’ request for review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari, makes final the Fourth Circuit’s decision that found Virginia’s marriage ban unconstitutional.