Politics

Federal Judge Strikes Down Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban

February 14, 2014

A federal judge in Norfolk struck down as unconstitutional Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday night, saying the country has “arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.”

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen issued a sweeping 41-page opinion that mentioned at length Virginia’s past in denying interracial marriage and quoted Abraham Lincoln. She struck the constitutional amendment Virginia voters approved in 2006 that both bans same-sex marriage and forbids recognition of such unions performed elsewhere.

She stayed her decision pending appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, meaning same-sex marriages will be not be immediately available in the commonwealth.

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), who had switched the state’s legal position on the issue and joined two gay couples in asking that the ban be struck down, has said the state will continue to enforce the prohibitions until the legal process is completed.

Wright Allen showed no hesi­ta­tion in overturning the state constitutional amendment, saying none of the reasons proponents offer for denying same-sex marriages make legitimate governmental interests.

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