Virginia is for lovers: Marriage Equality cases on the docket

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

EqualThe Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is being asked to put the Utah and Oklahoma marriage equality cases on a parallel track, as expected. Tenth Circuit is asked to put Oklahoma and Utah marriage equality cases on a parallel track. Briefs are due in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case of Sevcik v. Sandoval later this month.

Media attention is about to turn to the state of Virginia, where a high profile case led by the Prop. 8 "Dream Team" of David Boise and Ted Olson is scheduled for a hearing on January 30. Va. quickly emerging as key in gay marriage fight:

Almost overnight, Virginia has emerged as a critical state in the nationwide fight to grant gay men and women the right to wed.

* * *

Two federal lawsuits challenging the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage are moving forward, and a hearing on one of the cases is scheduled for Jan. 30.

With the recent court gains in Utah and Oklahoma, gay rights advocates are heartened by the new mood in Virginia. Symbolically as well, they say, the challenges of the state’s gay marriage ban resonate because of the founding state’s history of erecting a wall between church and state and a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Virginia couple and a past taboo: interracial marriage.

“Virginia is one of several important battlefronts where we have the opportunity now to build on the momentum, embrace the public’s movement in favor of the freedom to marry and end the discrimination,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of New York-based Freedom to Marry, which seeks to have same-sex marriage bans struck down nationwide.

The separate lawsuits intended to topple the constitutional ban on gay marriage have been filed in federal courts, which are typically speedy in Virginia. The issue could ultimately be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

One lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg [Harris, et al. v. McDonnel, et al., U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virgina – Harrisonburg Division (Civil Action No. 5:13-cv-00077), a class action lawsuit], involves two couples from the Shenandoah Valley who claim the state’s ban on gay marriage violates the Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are representing the plaintiffs.

Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal, said Virginia’s “intriguing” history on marriage rights played a role in filing the challenge here. A 1967 Supreme Court decision involving a Virginia couple invalidated laws on miscegenation, or interracial marriage. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

* * *

The other lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Norfolk [Bostic v. Rainey, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia – Norfolk Division (Civil Action No. 2:13-cv-395)] on similar constitutional claims. The legal costs in that case are being paid for by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which was behind the effort to overturn California’s gay marriage ban.

David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the high-profile legal tandem that brought down California’s prohibition on same-sex marriage, lead the legal team in that challenge. Both cited Virginia’s history when they announced their challenge.

“This case is about state laws that violate personal freedoms, are unnecessary government intrusions, and cause serious harm to loving gay and lesbian couples,” Olson said. “As a Virginian and a conservative, I believe these laws stand against the very principles of our nation’s founding.”

Boies compared their challenge of the state’s gay marriage ban to the Loving case.

“Virginia gave us the first marriage equality case — and the one that most clearly established that the right to marry the person you love is a fundamental right of all Americans,” Boies said. “It’s fitting, then, that Virginia be the battleground for another great test of that principal.”

The Beltway media villagers will soon turn their attention to the Bostic v. Rainey case.

Comments are closed.