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Plaintiffs in Oklahoma and Virginia Gay Marriage Cases Ask Supreme Court to Weigh In

Earlier this week, we reported that  plaintiffs in the case challenging Utah's ban on same-sex marriage have filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to finally weigh in on the question of whether all citizens have a fundamental right to marry. 

ScotusNow, the plaintiffs challenging gay marriage bans in Oklahoma and Virginia have similarly followed suit and asked the highest court in the land to review their cases as well, The Advocate reports:

When the justices return from vacation in late September, they'll likely find unanimous agreement from all parties that they should consider a marriage equality case. But which cases the court will pick remains in question.

It's worth noting that the cases would have reached the Supreme Court even if the plaintiffs hadn't filed their petitions. The defendants in the cases — attorneys representing the states — have filed petitions as well.

Previously, the same-sex couples serving as plaintiffs in all three states won major victories at the district court and appellate level. UtahOklahoma, and Virginia all enjoyed an unbroken string of victories for the freedom to marry. Ordinarily, the victorious side would oppose a rehearing, as it runs the risk of overturning the decision. But the motivation behind the plaintiffs' briefs boils down to their desire to expand their victories nationwide.

The court has the option of taking up one case, multiple cases, or none at all and could defer a decision until next June. 


Supreme Court Stays 4th Circuit's Ruling On Virginia Gay Marriage Ban

Court

The Supreme Court has decided to stay the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that found Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. As Chris Geidner from BuzzFeed reports, the lower court's ruling is on hold until the Supreme Court decides whether it will review the case or not:

Notably, the court stated that the stay will “terminate automatically” if it does not take and denies certiorari in the case — which is the process by which the court formally takes cases. If it grants certiorari, then its stay ends when it “send[s] down … the judgment of this Court.”

Same-sex marriage was scheduled to become legal in Virginia on Thursday had the Court not intervened.

USA Today reports that in its coming term, the Court will have a number of same-sex marriage cases to consider:

The justices will get their first crack at the broader issue in late September, when they meet privately to consider petitions that accumulated through the summer. They could grant one or more gay marriage cases for the 2014 term or wait for additional appeals.

More cases could arrive at the court this fall from the 6th Circuit appeals court, which heard cases earlier this month from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee; from the 7th Circuit, which will hear Indiana and Wisconsin cases next week; and from the 9th Circuit, which will hear Idaho and Nevada cases early next month.

(Image via Chris Geidner, Twitter).


ACLU and Lambda Legal Ask Supreme Court to Reject Motion To Delay Same-Sex Marriage In Virginia

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Late last week, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts agreed to review a request from Virginia county clerk Michèle McQuigg to stay a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Yesterday, prompted by Chief Justice Roberts’ intervention, the ACLU and Lambda Legal asked that the Fourth Circuit’s ruling not be stayed so that same-sex marriage can begin at last in Virginia:

"We will do everything we can to ensure that same-sex couples do not have to wait a day longer than necessary to finally receive the dignity and protection that only comes with marriage," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, who argued the case for the class before the federal appeals court. "The historic Supreme Court case that affirmed the right of people of different races to marry started in in Virginia. In the 47 years since then, committed same-sex couples in the commonwealth have been patiently waiting for the freedom to marry the person they love."

The organizations also will request that, if the Court decides to grant the stay, it should accept the case for full review as quickly as possible in order to minimize the harm that would be caused by the delay of the Fourth Circuit decision.

As WVEC notes, same-sex couples will be allowed to wed in Virginia starting August 21 unless the Supreme Court grants a stay of the Fourth Circuit’s decision. 


Supreme Court to Decide Stay Request for Fourth Circuit's Virginia Gay Marriage Ruling

Virginia

Chief Justice John Roberts, who’s responsible for stay requests for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, has agreed to allow the Supreme Court to decide whether or not a stay is justified in the Virginia gay marriage case.

The Fourth Circuit, which struck down the Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage late last month, originally denied county clerk Michèle McQuigg's request to stay the ruling. This led to McQuigg and the anti-gay Christian legal firm representing her, Alliance Defending Freedom, to ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

Acknowledging the request, Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered information to be filed by Monday at 5:00 PM. The Court could have granted the stay as requested, refused to grant the stay, or ignored the request and not responded. The Supreme Court has granted every stay request in a same-sex marriage case since its DOMA ruling last year.

This week, the Fourth Circuit confirmed that marriages in Virginia could begin next Thursday. That still holds, unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise -- which is likely.

Stay tuned.


Virginia County Clerk Petitions SCOTUS to Stop Gay Marriages, Scheduled to Begin Thursday

Virginia

A Virginia county clerk backed by an anti-gay Christian legal group has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block same-sex marriages expected to begin in the state next week following the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals' refusal to delay its decision late last month striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban. 

It was reported earlier that, barring SCOTUS intervention, same-sex couples in Virginia could begin getting licenses to wed as early as next Monday or Wednesday, but now it appears the Fourth Circuit's decision will go into effect at 9am Thursday.

Washington Blade reports:

Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending the ban on behalf of Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg, made its case in a 26-page brief for why justices should overturn a decision from the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to refuse a stay on the same-sex marriages.

“Unless this Court issues the stay requested here and makes clear that the courts of appeals should stay their mandates in these cases, it is likely that other circuits will mistakenly follow the Fourth Circuit’s lead,” the brief states. “Yet that would invite needless chaos and uncertainty rather than facilitate the orderly and dignified resolution of a constitutional question of enormous national importance.”

The petition from ADF was delivered to Chief Justice John Roberts, who’s responsible for stay requests for the Fourth Circuit and can decide the matter on his own or refer the request to the entire court for consideration.

SCOTUSblog adds:

Twice before, the Supreme Court has blocked same-sex weddings or state recognition of existing same-sex marriages when asked to do so by state officials in Utah [Kitchen v. Herbert & Evans v. Utah].  Some judges have interpreted those orders as indicating that the Justices do not want such marriages to go ahead until after appeals have been resolved.

Despite this, National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter says there's a possibility that the Court could deny a stay this time around in the Virginia case.

Court to deny a stay this time around in the Virginia case. “A lot has changed since the Court issued a stay in Kitchen, which was the first district court decision in the entire country striking down a state marriage ban after Windsor,” Minter said. “There are now many other such decisions, in every corner of the nation. The Court could decide that a stay is no longer warranted.” 

 Read McQuigg's petition below:


Gay Couples in Virginia Can Marry Starting Monday Barring SCOTUS Intervention

Virginia

Gay couples in Virginia will be able to begin marrying on Monday unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, after a ruling today from the Fourth Circuit court of appeals, Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson reports:

"The Fourth Circuit just denied by a 2-1 vote the petition for a stay of the mandate in the Virginia marriage equality litigation! That means that same-sex couples should be able to marry in Virginia starting Monday, unless a petition for a stay to the Supreme Court (which would go first to Chief Justice Roberts) is sought and granted before then."

And the AP confirms....


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