Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Strikes Down Virginia’s Marriage Ban


ARTHUR S. LEONARD | Gay City News | July 28, 2014

A three-judge panel of the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, has declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The July 28 ruling did not go into immediate effect, and the two county clerks who are defending the ban –– Governor Terry McAuliffe and fellow Democrat Mark Herring, the attorney general, are not doing so –– have two weeks to indicate their intention to seek either en banc review by all of the circuit’s judges or review by the Supreme Court. Otherwise, the appeals panel would issue a final order no later than seven days after that –– which would be August 18.

However, since the clerks are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a right-wing litigation group strongly dedicated to defeating same-sex marriage, they will undoubtedly seek further review, which would stay the ruling until those appeals are disposed of.

Following lead of 10th Circuit, Richmond-based panel concludes marriage is fundamental right state abridges without compelling rationale

Marriage equality litigation in three other states in the Fourth Circuit –– North and South Carolina and West Virginia –– has been on hold pending this ruling, which is binding on those cases. The district courts hearing those cases could decide to see if there is further review in the Virginia litigation before moving forward. Shortly after the ruling came out, North Carolina’s attorney general, Roy Cooper, a Democrat, told reporters he viewed it as “futile” to continue litigating the issue there, since the Fourth Circuit has made its views known and final resolution will come from the Supreme Court. The remaining state in the Fourth Circuit, Maryland, enacted equal marriage rights in 2012 in legislation approved by the state’s voters.

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