Virginia Couple File Lawsuit Challenging State’s Marriage Equality Ban

After being denied a marriage license earlier this month, a gay couple from Virginia has now filed a federal lawsuit that challenges that state's ban on same-sex marriage. The suit is a first of its kind and follows an announcement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia who are currently preparing a similar lawsuit.

VirginiaVoters in Virginia approved an amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2006. The two men, Tony London and Timothy Bostic, have been together since 1989.

The Virginian-Pilot reports:

"They thought about getting married in another state, but decided against it," said Robert Ruloff, an attorney for London, a Norfolk real estate agent, and Bostic, an Old Dominion University assistant professor of English. "They are Virginians and they want to be married in Virginia."

Of course the wingnuts have already responded:

Chris Freund, a spokesman for the Family Foundation, a conservative nonprofit based in Richmond, said he was not surprised by the lawsuit. He said the plaintiffs are trying to circumvent "the will of the people."

"They know they can't win at the legislature and they probably can't win at the ballot box, so they are trying to find a judge or some judges to overturn the will of Virginians," Freund said.

Earlier this week (actually on the day this lawsuit was filed) Andy posted an item about a new Quinnipiac poll which revealed 50 percent of Virginians support same-sex marriage and 43 percent oppose it.


  1. michaeld1048 says

    They’ve been together longer than MANY heterosexual couples and deserve their Marriage Equality. They’ve been together longer than my parents were able to stay married. Congratulations to Mr London and Mr Bostic; this could be the gay Loving v. Viginia. Best of luck in the future and may you have many more happy years together.

  2. gr8guya says

    And the goals of all of these suits is …what? To end up back in the Supreme Court? While several justices are for marriage equality, some of them have reservations about the Court imposing that standard all across the country. Justice Ginsburg has stated that she doesn’t want to move too quickly. She wants to avoid the kind of militant backlash that happened after Roe v. Wade.

    Perhaps if it takes a couple of years to reach the Supreme Court, then the timing may be right for the gay equivalent of Loving v Virginia. (By the way, the best named case ever. Virginia was against people loving each other. Ironic.)

  3. Randy says

    The goal is to get the state Supreme Courts to rule in light of the Windsor decision from SCOTUS. We can bet that some of the courts will rule in our favor while others will not. The ones in our favor will be another notch in our belt.

    Even if it’s just one state court and the others all rule against us, that creates a problem for SCOTUS — all these states courts ruling differently based on Windsor. So eventually they will need to step in and clarify what they meant: Do gays have an equal right to marriage or not? Kennedy hinted at it, but the court was not willing to go that far.

    It will take several years before these cases bubble up to the states’ highest courts. When enough of them have ruled, then SCOTUS will take up the issue, perhaps if five years or so.

    By then, we should have a solid majority of americans in favor of marriage equality and it will be much easier for them to declare all bans unconstitutional.

    So I think what this all is is a waiting game. Wait until more courts rule on this, and wait until more of the public is behind us. Then the justices will merely follow the trend and no one is upset. Except the usual wingnuts, but who cares about them?

    What’s remarkable is how little outrage there was from the GOP and the general public about the recent decisions. Except for the usual wingnuts and FRC, really, no one really cares. I think most people have moved on, and this issue is so 2000s for them. Even the ones against it know they are losing and will ultimately lose, and don’t really have the fight in them anymore.

  4. Anthony says

    Randy, the state courts cannot invalidate state constitutional amendments. These are federal lawsuits. Otherwise, you are correct. It’s only a matter of time before marriage is legal nationwide.

  5. Rexford says

    Anthony – I believe a state supreme court can invalidate a state constitutional amendment, if they find that it violates another part of the state’s constitution (such as an equal protection clause). And as I recall, that’s what was argued in the first Prop 8 case (Strauss v. Horton), which went before the California Supreme Court. And although the majority decision went the other way, and the amendment was upheld, it was that court which ruled that the 18,000 marriages that took place during the window of opportunity would remain valid. But invariably, any case on this subject at the state level would probably be appealed at the federal level as what eventually happened with Prop 8.

  6. Armando says

    On an episode of Mary Tyler Moore, I remember her saying that some questions have to be asked before they can be answered. That’s the way I think the Supreme Court works. They look for cases with questions that they want to answer. Maybe this is the case that asks the right question.

  7. Rob says

    The idea that the majority can vote on the rights of minorities is absurd. It’s hooliganism. It’s up to the courts to protect the rights of minorities based on standards of fairness.

    Majorities conferring rights on minorities are usually not fair at all.

    We’ve been through this.

  8. johnny says

    gr8guya, yes, to end up at the supreme court.

    By the ballot box (which doesn’t always work in our favor) or by the courts, one way or another we’re going to keep pressing this issue until it’s no longer an issue.

    The fight continues and will continue until marriage equality is the law of the ENTIRE land, not just some states.

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