Happy Valentine's Day! Lately, it seems like every day brings another falling domino in the fight for marriage freedom. Today's victory comes from Virginia, where a federal judge declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The case, Bostic v. Rainey, looks a lot like every other marriage case -- loving and committed same-sex couples want nothing more than to have their love recognized by the state.
Judge Arenda Wright Allen, a former Judge Advocate General in the Navy and public defender and an Obama appointee to the federal bench, declared Virginia's ban unconstitutional, but took a different path than some other judges who have recently come to similar conclusions. The decision concludes that marriage is a fundamental right and, as such, any ban on fundamental rights has to be evaluated under strict scrutiny. But Judge Wright Allen notes that she does not have to go the far: the ban fails very easily under equal protection, and under the lowest form of scrutiny. But, as you will see from our discussion below, this decision feeds off recent decisions elsewhere on marriage equality, proving that a victory in one case does indeed make it easier to win the next case.
Regular Towleroad readers should be familiar with this argument. It does not break any new ground and will probably stand up at the appellate level. And although the Fourth Circuit has for years been a deeply conservative court, President Obama's recent appointees have tipped the balance. Even if they had not, we have seen many Republican appointees honestly apply the law and find these bans unconstitutional.
Follow me for a summary of the Bostic decision, AFTER THE JUMP...