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The Blue & Gray Press | August 16, 2017

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Judge rules Virginia marriage ban unconstitutional

BY JONATHAN POLSON

A federal judge ruled last Thursday, February 13 that the Commonwealth of Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, citing the freedom to marry as a fundamental right of all United States citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.

Judge Arenda Wright Allen of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia delivered the ruling on a lawsuit brought to court by two homosexual couples from Norfolk.

In the 41-page opinion, Allen states, “Virginia’s Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry.”

Citing the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, Allen stated, “the Supreme Court has recognized repeatedly that marriage is a fundamental right.”

“Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships…created through the exercise of sacred personal choices,” said Allen.

She went on to state that the U.S. Constitution affords the same rights to all citizens and the right to make choices such as who to marry “must be free from unwarranted government interference.”

Allen countered the defense of tradition, stating, “tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry” and that the ban holds no legitimate state purpose.

“Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parent over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family,” wrote Allen.

This decision overturns a 2006 amendment to Virginia’s Constitution and subsequent state law that prohibited same-sex marriage. This also follows newly inaugurated Attorney General Mark Herring’s reversal on the issue. In 2006, as a state senator, Herring voted in favor of the ban but recently declared that he would not support it as attorney general.

However, this ruling does not immediately make same-sex marriage legal in the Commonwealth. Allen stayed the ruling based on an expected appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, according to the Washington Post.

The stay temporarily halts further legal processes, and therefore marriage licenses will not be available for same-sex couples. If the ruling is confirmed by the higher court then the legal process for allowing same-sex marriages in Virginia can begin.

Many are hoping that the higher court upholds the ruling and that Allen’s decision leads toward legalization of same-sex marriage in Virginia.

“I think that it’s great Virginia is showing a progressive move toward the future, which should include equal marriage for all,” said junior international affairs major Ally Thames.

Allen’s ruling also states that the Commonwealth of Virginia must respect same-sex marriages legally obtained within other states. According to the Associated Press, Virginia is now the second state in the South to rule that the state must recognize legal same-sex marriages.

The ruling is significant within the current context of national debate over same-sex marriage, especially after the Supreme Court’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act this past June. The Supreme Court’s decision declared that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages from states in which it is legal, but it did not address whether prohibition of same-sex marriage is or is not constitutional.

“I am glad Virginia is heading toward the right side of history,” said Chris Dingus, president of the University of Mary Washington’s Young Democrats. “Hopefully this trend continues.”

Dingus expressed hope that Virginia will now help set into motion similar rulings throughout peripheral states in the South.

“This ruling lays the groundwork for more progress not only in Virginia but in surrounding states as well,” said Dingus.

Virginia’s decision joins recent, similar state rulings from Oklahoma and Utah. Fights across the country to end state restrictions on marriage are collectively pushing for a more definite Supreme Court decision on whether the Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage.

Comments

  1. Fireproof Lady

    How can there be “equality” where none exists? How is homosexuality equal to heterosexuality – the sexual bond that keeps life going on this planet – in any significant way?

    Nice to see another judge bleat the current politically correct narrative in lieu of actual application of law. “Due process” apparently means anything people say it means, in this case, that a man can marry another man. *barf* And thus opens the door on polygamy and lowering the age of consent (soon adults will be able to marry 10 year olds – hey, it’s all “Same Love”, right?)

    Pathetic.

  2. alexei

    so what if someone want marry a dog ?

  3. Richard Alexander

    “citing the freedom to marry as a fundamental right”

    The freedom to marry whom? Not just anyone; the law doesn’t allow that. The law limits what it considers qualified marriage partners. The law doesn’t have to recognize *any* marriages at all; it’s merely the structure of our government that it does so. There is no fundamental right for government recognition of a form of marriage, but inasmuch as precedent exists, it has been, until recently, for heterosexual marriages limited to only two consenting adults in the marriage.

    “of all United States citizens, regardless of sexual orientation”

    Based on what? Other than the whims of Leftists and Progressives, on what does this judge base such a statement?

    “Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships…created through the exercise of sacred personal choices”

    I don’t know why Judge Allen said that, because apparently it doesn’t matter whether it is true or not. Her statement is completely irrelevant to the “fundamental right” she claims all US citizens possess. Because the truth of her statement is irrelevant to her judgement, I must suppose that she is making such claims to impress the citizens who read her decision. It’s mere judicial propaganda. In fact, half of all homosexual marriages are “open” marriages, in which sex partners from outside the marriage are allowed open participation within the marriage.

  4. Jay

    LMAO. You’re an idiot.

  5. Jay

    Incorrect on all counts.

  6. Jay

    Can a dog give consent and sign a marriage license? No? There’s your answer. Any more stupid questions?

  7. Ken schaefer

    The replies on this are making me physically nauseous. In 2014 how can people be so arrogant selfish small minded and homophobic? I am a very straight single father with a boy and a girl, raising them alone. I’d kill for a wife… A life partner… a companion. But I do not have any more of a right to experience that love joy and happiness than any other person on the planet homosexual or not. Equal protection under the law is not a socialist liberal progressive idea. It is an idea that was ingrained into the Constitution almost two hundred forty years ago. Legalizing same-sex marriage does not cause a slippery slope downward spiral into polygamy or beastiality or marrying 10 year olds as one person on here insinuated. Those are examples of aberrant behavior and homosexuality is not aberrant behavior. You are personally insulting every homosexual or family member of a homosexual with your idiotic neanderthal views. The judge in this case was applying the law as it is written into the Constitution. You people are on the wrong side of history and this and it will be proven as such.

  8. Muses Key

    Just curious as to why are you opposed to allowing people to get married and have the same rights and protection under the law? How does it affect any of you or infringe on your rights? The pathetic and sad thing is that your statements are no different in context as those who opposed the idea that Blacks shouldn’t have freedom, or that women shouldn’t have the right to vote. But thank God that this country’s leaders had the common sense to see that was wrong. This is no different. And do yourself a favor, don’t try to play the Bible says it’s a sin BS. Because no where does it state that homosexuality is a sin. Not in the old testament or the new testament. But if you’re so keen to try to show your ignorance, by all means remember that only God may judge. FYI that is actually stated in the bible to be a sin. Personally, I’m a heterosexual woman and can care less if teo men or two women want to marry. And I certainly wouldn’t want to have my right to marry a heterosexual man taken away or worse, have my right to vote made unconstitutional because I’m a woman. Get it together people, it’s not about you. It’s about doing the right thing as a society. Oh and I’m a republican. LOL

  9. kc

    This is why I do not believe in the legalization of same sex marriage. People will do what they wish to do and we as a society cannot take responsibility for the individuals actions in as much as they are personal. When we however pass a law giving legal sanction to such behavior we then become. responsible as a society. Homosexuality is spiritually, emotionally and physically destructive to the individuals who become involved in this lifestyle. Society bears fault for the consequences of such behavior when we give it legal sanction.

  10. Kes

    So are you saying that women who can’t get pregnant shouldn’t have the right to get married? Or men who are unable to get a woman pregnant shouldn’t have the right to get married either?

    Marriage is simply for procreation?

  11. There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to marry any and all consenting adults. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality “just for some” is not equality. Let’s stand up for EVERY ADULT’S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!

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