Federal judge rules Virginia marriage ban unconstitutional; stays ruling pending appeal

Tonight, February 13, same-sex couples in Virginia got an early Valentine's Day present when a federal judge ruled that the ban on same-sex couples from marrying in Virginia is unconstitutional. The judge stayed the ruling pending an appeal.

In the ruling, the judge, Arenda L. Wright Allen, wrote, "We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect." Read the full ruling HERE. 

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the ruling, saying:

The bipartisan momentum for marriage is building at an unprecedented speed. In just the past several weeks, federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma, and Kentucky; the Attorney Generals of Virginia and Nevada; the Governor of Nevada, and now a federal judge in Virginia have all said that marriage discrimination against loving and committed gay couples is indefensible under our Constitution. There has been a fundamental shift in the legal landscape. America is ready for the freedom to marry and those couples in Virginia, on the eve of Valentine's Day, are ready to marry.

The case decided on today was Bostic v. Rainey, filed in July 18, 2013 by private lawyers in Norfolk, VA, and joined by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER). The plaintiffs are Timothy Bostic & Tony London and Carol Schall & Mary Townley, a same-sex couple who was denied a marriage license in Virginia and a same-sex couple married in California, respectively. Meet the plaintiffs HERE.

The lawsuit argues that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Virginia violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

It's been a big year for the freedom to marry in Virginia - in January, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he would no longer defend the state's anti-marriage laws. A similar court case - a class-action suit brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, was also heard this year, Harris v. Rainey. All of the movement makes it clear: It's time for marriage in Virginia.

In fact, it's been a big year for the freedom to marry in states across the country - Judge Allen is the fifth federal judge in the past two months to rule in favor of the freedom to marry, after positive rulings from Judge Shelby in Utah, Judge Timothy Black in Ohio, Judge Kern in Oklahoma, and just yesterday, Judge Heyburn in Kentucky.

Keep up on all of the marriage litigation - 46 cases in 25 states - HERE.  

Read more about the case HERE