Virginia

STATUS:

Marriage

WINNING MARRIAGE:

On October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied review of a federal legal case in which a federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny review meant that same-sex couples in Virginia could get married effective immediately, and Virginia began issuing marriage licenses that day.

The case that brought an end to Virginia’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment was Bostic v. Schaefer. On February 13, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, striking down Virginia’s marriage ban.

On August 13, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals denied defendants' requests to stay the marriage ruling, meaning that unless the U.S. Supreme Court places the ruling on hold, same-sex couples will be able to marry in Virginia on Thursday, August 21. 

Five months later, on July 28, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed the freedom to marry in Virginia, upholding Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s ruling. All parties involved in the case urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and decide the question of whether same-sex couples had the freedom to marry nationwide. The October order denying review meant that the lower court ruling stands, and Virginia is officially a freedom-to-marry state.

HISTORY:

In 2006, anti-gay forces in Virginia pushed through the Marshall-Newman Amendment, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any other form of legal family status.

Several legal groups filed lawsuits against the state of Virginia in 2013, seeking the freedom to marry or respect for their marriages legally performed in other states. In January 2014, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he would not defend the state's anti-marriage laws, and that he believed the laws to be unconstitutional.

GROUPS THAT WORKED ON MARRIAGE:

  • Equality Virginia is Virginia's central statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights and advocacy organization.
  • Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
  • American Civil Liberties Union is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the state Constitution, and state and federal human rights laws.
  • The American Foundation for Equal Rights is a national legal organization working toward marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. 
  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.

POLLING DATA: 

Support for marriage in Virginia has increased in the past six years. Now, 56% of Virginians say they support marriage for same-sex couples, including 75% of Democrats and 56% of Independent voters. (The Washington Post, May 2013

NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES:

According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 14,243 same-sex couples are living in Virginia, representing 4.7 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Blog Posts Related to Virginia

LIVE BLOG: The freedom to marry comes to 5 more states, paves way in 6 more

As news comes in today from any of the 11 states impacted by today's amazing movement, Freedom to Marry will maintain this live blog, embedding tweets and reporting on the latest news.

Marriage cases will be considered at first SCOTUS conference on 9/29

Today, September 10, 7 different petitions seeking certiorari in marriage cases from 5 states were distributed for the September 29 conference at the United States Supreme Court.

States, businesses, families agree in new briefs: SCOTUS should rule on marriage

The briefs lay out the urgency of bringing an end to the tangible harms and national disparities in how same-sex couples and their families are treated and encourage the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution without delay.

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Resources Related to Virginia

Party Principles: Support for the Freedom to Marry by State and National Political Parties

A listing of both state and national political parties that have made strong statements in support of the freedom to marry.

Virginia Census Snapshot

Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Virginia.

Geographic Trends Among Same-Sex Couples in the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey

Groundbreaking research showing a huge increase in same-sex couples identifying themselves as "unmarried partners".

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