Federal Judge Strikes Down Virginia’s Ban on Gay Marriage


A federal judge has struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage:

The ruling was announced late Thursday evening. The order released around 10 p.m. stated the following:

"The Court finds Va. Const. Art. I, § 15-A, Va. Code §§ 20-45.2, 20-45.3, and any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia's recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional. These laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."

District Federal Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen promised to rule quickly after hearing arguments in Norfolk on Thursday in one of two challenges to Virginia's ban. The case is Bostic v. Rainey, and the plaintiffs were represented by (Prop 8 lawyers) Ted Olson and David Boies and the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

The WaPo reports:

“Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships,” Wright Allen wrote. “Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices—choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.”

Wright Allen opened her decision with a quote from Mildred Loving, who was at the center of the Virginia case that the Supreme Court used in 1967 to strike down laws banning interracial marriage.

Same-sex marriages will not begin right away as the ruling was stayed to allow parties the chance to appeal.

Here's the full ruling, (via MetroWeekly)

Bostic v. Rainey


  1. Randy says

    Of course now the republicans will waste millions of taxpayer dollars defending their bigotry and claiming that some activist judge has overruled the will of the people….and then some other court will take up the matter and waste more time and money.

    I just wish the republicans cared as much about the country, and spent as much time and effort helping to create some good jobs, as they do worrying about two people loving each other!

    Of course, when they are falling all over one another to appease the religious nutjobs, there’s no time to do positive things for America!

  2. Mikey says

    I’m with Randy. It’s ridiculous just how much tax money, at the end of the day, will have been wasted trying to fight civil rights.

  3. says

    Awesome slightly early Valentine’s Day present for Virginia. The Republicans will surely work to defend the discrimination but elections matter: The AG and the governor are on the right side of history, our side.

    The dominoes keep falling, and Kansas and Tennessee and Sen. Cruz and Brian Brown and all the other bigots across the U.S. can’t stop them.

  4. Icebloo says

    So why does the U.S. have all these levels of courts when everyone just continually appeals until their cases go to the Supreme Court ? Why not get rid of all these lower courts and just have the Supreme Court ?

    It seems to me all these lower courts are a waste of taxpayer money and are only there for lawyers and judges to make money from us.
    Also if a case can be appealed and appealed until it gets to the Supreme Court how many poor people can afford to keep paying for yet more and more court cases until they reach the Supreme Court ? Obviously this terrible system was set up to keep poor people from ever winning in court but lawyers and judges are making a great living out of it.

    What a MESS ! It’s time to scrap the whole system and redesign it so it works for the majority of people and not just the mega rich.

  5. says

    It is absolutely awesome to watch as one-by-one these bans that force discrimination on an entire segment of society are found unconstitutional! The bans will all end up being nothing more than temporary measures that enshrined discrimination on a state-by-state basis; but they’ve all crumbled when challenged in federal courts by judges who are entrusted to uphold the US Constitution. Imagine if slavery was put to popular vote back in the slavery era! It’s the same laughable principle here. Florida’s ban will also be struck down soon. That lawsuit was filed just weeks ago. Sadly, our idiot governor will waste taxpayer dollars defending Florida’s ban, which like the rest, will eventually be stricken. Hopefully, he won’t have the opportunity and Charlie Crist will take office in January. Crist will decline any attempts to defend this indefensible law in court and will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  6. I'm layla miller i know stuff says

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  7. says

    I will NEVER tire of reading Justices whose rulings end with words like hers.

    ‘Almost one hundred and fifty four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln approached the cataclysmic rending of our nation over a struggle for other freedoms, a rending that would take his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others, he wrote these words: “… can not have
    failed to strike you that these men ask for just … the same thing—fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.”

    ‘The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only.
    This, so far as it is in this Court’s power, they and all others shall have.’

    Bless you Justice Arenda L. Wright Allen.

  8. Josh says

    @ICEBLOO The Supreme Court hears fewer than 100 cases each year, a tiny fraction of the cases heard by the federal district and appellate courts. Our judicial system has undergirded stability in this country quite well. It’s well worth the cost.

  9. says

    Justice Wright Allen opened with a quote from Loving affirming equality for all and ended with a quote and paraphrase of Lincoln ‘to do all that was in her power to do.’

    In between was showcased an abundance of common sense blended with brilliant legal rationale, a solid right hook to Cuccinelli, cited the perfect quotes of essence from Shelby and Kennedy, a little right jab to Scalia, an opinion on heightened scrutiny, and a total smackdown of the same old tired Perkins/Brown/Gallagher arguments used ad nauseum.

    She emphasized Kennedy’s language especially for the states rights crowd. ‘OF COURSE’ they are subject to constitutional guarantees of equality. Especially on a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT like marriage.

    It’s been a good week. A very good week.

  10. David says

    Not recognizing a form of marriage that doesn’t exist in your state is denying people due process?

    I’m sorry, but the judge pulled that out of her ass. What’s next? Saying that being admitted to the bar in one state must automatically admit you to the bar in all states lest due process be denied? That a business license in one state must be valid in all states lest due process be denied? This is just pathetic.

  11. Randy says

    Opening with Mildred Loving’s Loving for All statement on the first page tells you all you need to know about this wonderful decision.

    Judge Wright Allen packs a wonderful selection of quotes throughout the decision, making it a great read. And she references a wide range of precedent, and other cases of interest, sure to make socially conservative heads explode, particularly in the footnotes. Even on matters that she did not decide, she strongly hints in our favor. And the Lincoln quote, and subsequent paraphrase, was unexpectedly moving.

    I am intrigued by the difference in this case, versus the Ohio case, when it comes to recognizing out-of-state marriages. While I found the Ohio limitation to death certificates frustrating, it also makes a sort of legal sense, and I don’t see that sense here in the equivalent part of this case.

    I wonder if this was published at 10 PM on the 13th, so we could enjoy it on the 14th…

    Happy Valentine’s Day
    Happy Pink Triangle Day, for Virginians with a Canadian connection.

  12. says

    Huge difference between fundamental civil rights guaranteed to all and a license to practice a studied discipline like law. Did SCOTUS pull it out also? DOMA was in violation of due process and equal protection.

    Justice Wright Allen’s ‘We the People’ is pretty good stuff.
    “We the People” have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined. Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed. We have arrived upon another moment in history when ‘We the People’ becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.

  13. says

    ICEBLOO: We’ve got 310 million people here; 3 levels of Federal courts is about the minimum needed to keep any individual court from getting hopelessly backlogged.

    Randy: The scope of relief in the OH decision was limited because death-certificate recognition was all the plaintiffs asked for. This was a deliberate decision on the part of their lawyer, who’s now representing some out-of-state-married couples who are seeking similarly limited relief, namely to be recognized as married on their kids’s birth certificates.

    There’s a method to the madness; Mr. Gerhardstein, the counsel in both OH cases, thinks that the 6th Circuit is going to be a tough sell and that “playing small ball” is the best strategy for getting favorable decisions (you could call it the “death of a thousand cuts” strategy).

  14. queenrosered says

    Last year, on the morning of June 26th, I awoke to the news that DOMA and Prop 8 had both DIED.I’ll always remember the date as it’s my birthday. As a straight ally I watched the news on TV with tears of JOY! Then I called my best friend Gary who is gay and like myself,age 62. I figured that since we’re so close, he’d assume I was calling because of my birthday and the conversation would begin with that but no, he excitedly exclaimed (the second he answered!) “I know! Can you believe it? Oh my God!” What excites me most is that he never thought he would actually LIVE to see the day when he and his partner of 35 years could truly be married! The wedding is in March in Palm Springs! My husband and I will be there along with apx. 20 other friends and family members. I’d love for their story to make the news! Who should I contact for media coverage? (The wedding will take place 2 days before their 36th “anniversary” as a couple!) Any suggestions? Thanks and *CHEERS!* Let true FREEDOM ring!

  15. JJ says

    @DAVID: “Not recognizing a form of marriage that doesn’t exist in your state is denying people due process?”

    Yes, because it’s not “a form of” marriage. It’s just marriage. The same as everyone else. The rights bestowed and the responsibilities assumed don’t differ from couple to couple depending on the configuration of their genitals. The sexes of the partners has no bearing to the legal incidents of marriage. Denying protection to certain couples based on their sexes is arbitrary, and hence a violation of Due Process.

    “What’s next? Saying that being admitted to the bar in one state must automatically admit you to the bar in all states lest due process be denied?”

    Not a valid analogy. However, accepting all out-of-state law licenses except those issued to gays would be pretty suspect–and a more apt analogy.

  16. DamFine10 says

    Did you ever notice that the polls referenced by megalomaniacs like Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer, et al, used to defend hate, are circa 2004? The times, they have changed! More Americans now believe Marriage Equality is the way to live. Any recent polls that say 57% of Virginians are against Marriage Equality… say, from 2012, or later? Didn’t think so! Perkins & pals love beating dead horsed because those two or three people who agree with keep sending them money to spew their hate!!!

  17. JonnyNYNY2FLFL says

    Good thing Virginia voters just elected Demorats to the governorship & kicked out the GOP AG.

    If they hadn’t, all state government functions would stop so they could fight this court decision full time.

  18. johnny says

    “There’s a method to the madness; Mr. Gerhardstein, the counsel in both OH cases, thinks that the 6th Circuit is going to be a tough sell and that “playing small ball” is the best strategy for getting favorable decisions (you could call it the “death of a thousand cuts” strategy).”

    Yes, it’s all about setting precidents. Once a death certificate is validated with same-sex couples and adoptions and marriages from other states are validated, it’s a very short leap (and hopefully a no-brainer for the judge) when arguing before the courts the validity of same-sex marriage for in-state residents. If you’re going to recognize these things for one group of transplanted same-sex couples, why are you NOT recognizing them for your own same-sex couples? It makes zero legal sense and will, in the end, mean the striking down of the ban altogether as they have zero legal standing or good arguments at that point.


  19. says

    I think the Supreme Court has been waiting for this sort of consensus to form in the lower courts before their big “final” hearing and decision on this issue.

  20. ChristopherM says

    Where are all the Towleroad trolls who were crying a few months ago that an African American female judge was not likely to rule in our favor? Hopefully sitting their dumb racist asses down and having a hot steaming mug of STFU.