Monday, January 27, 2014

The Courts

Federal Judge orders Virginia same-sex marriage ban hearing set for Thursday
By Brody Levesque | NORFOLK -- U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen released an order Monday regarding the case over Virginia marriage equality that “the Court confirms that oral argument on the summary judgment motions and the motion for a preliminary injunction will be heard commencing at 9 AM on Thursday, January 30, 2014.”
The case, Bostic v. McDonnell (Bostic v. Rainey) is a federal challenge seeking to overturn Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was filed last July. 
The plaintiff's legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies- who argued against California’s Proposition 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court, and supported by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, were joined last week by newly elected Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring who said he would support gay couples who have filed lawsuits challenging the state’s ban.
“After thorough legal review, I have now concluded that Virginia’s ban on marriage between same sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on two grounds: marriage is a fundamental right being denied to some Virginians, and the ban unlawfully discriminates on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender,” Herring said.
Legal analysts tell LGBTQ Nation that a ruling the case on Thursday is doubtful as the Judge also wrote: “The pending motions will be taken under further advisement at the close of the hearing.”
There are two lawsuits challenging Virginia’s ban in federal court, one in Harrisonburg while the other is in Norfolk. Both Norfolk couples were legally married in California in 2008.
In that case, Timothy Bostic and Tony London, applied for a marriage license with the Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk’s office in July 2013, but their application was denied.
The other Norfolk plaintiffs are Carol Schall and Mary Townley. They have a daughter, whom Townley gave birth to in 1998, but Schall can’t adopt her because Virginia law doesn't allow same-sex couples to adopt children, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit argues that Virginia law stigmatizes gays and lesbians, along with their children and families, because it denies them the same definition of marriage afforded to other couples. In the state General Assembly, Democratic legislators are still widely outnumbered in the House of Delegates, but they have been emboldened by the shift away from a reliably conservative state. They took immediate aim at the state’s ban on gay marriage, but proposed constitutional amendments face a long road. The earliest voters could see a proposed amendment is in 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this article