The freedom to marry comes to West Virginia

West Virginia is the latest state to secure the freedom to marry after the state's Attorney General and Governor agreed to stop defending the state's discriminatory marriage ban, paving the way for same-sex couples to soon be issued marriage licenses.

Today, October 9, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey announced that he would stop defending the state's marriage ban, consistent with the 4th Circuit's ruling in favor of the freedom to marry. This decision came days after the Supreme Court denied review in 5 cases involving the freedom to marry, including a ruling from the 4th Circuit in Virginia, which is binding for several states including West Virginia.

Attorney General Morrissey said:

“As the state’s Attorney General, it is my duty to defend state laws that have been passed by the state Legislature and are consistent with the Constitution. We have discharged this duty faithfully. In the upcoming days, we will now seek to bring to a close the pending litigation over West Virginia’s marriage laws, consistent with the Fourth Circuit’s now-binding decision.

West Virginia's Governor Earl Ray Tomblin added:

"I do not plan to take any actions that would seek to overturn the courts’ decisions. West Virginia will uphold the law according to these rulings, and I have directed state agencies to take appropriate action to make that possible. Our state is known for its kindness and hospitality to residents and visitors alike. I encourage all West Virginians—regardless of their personal beliefs—to uphold our statewide tradition of treating one another with dignity and respect.”

The case that the Attorney General's office seeks to bring to a close is McGee v. Cole, filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of three same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in their home state.

Morrissey is the 12th Attorney General in 11 states to refuse defending a marriage ban, following Attorneys General in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Missouri. In several other states, including Maryland, New York, and Arkansas, Attorneys General have voiced their support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

Freedom to Marry congratulates West Virginia and Lambda Legal on this historic victory, and expects that it will pave the way for the rest of the 4th Circuit.