Virginia's restrictive ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen in February. Today, Judge Wright Allen's decision gets an appellate hearing at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the intermediate appellate court based in Richmond that stands between the lower court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case, originally captioned Bostic v. Rainey, offers the appellate court a relatively "clean" same-sex marriage challenge without many of the complications that doomed the Prop 8 case to an anticlimactic end. Virginia's ban was comprehensive, banning both in-state gay marriages and recognition of out-of-state marriages between two gay people. And there is a certain poetic symmetry to bringing a federal challenge to marriage discrimination in the same state that gave us the landmark decision of Loving v. Virginia, which ended bans on interracial marriage.
A three judge panel of both Democratic and Republican appointees will consider the ban given the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor and the decision of sister courts across the country striking down all state bans on same-sex marriages. Given that context, two things are clear: First, gay marriage opponents will be arguing against the tide, and, second, the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor will be the primary reason why this court is likely to affirm the unconstitutionality of the ban.
I provide a brief preview of the major players and the arguments to come this morning,
AFTER THE JUMP...