Virginia

STATUS:

Anti-relationship recognition constitutional amendment; a federal judge has ruled that the amendment is unconstitutional; the decision has been affirmed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: 

On July 28, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling in favor of the freedom to marry, declaring that banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. The decision affirmed the February 13 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in Bostic v. Schaefer, where same-sex couples sought the freedom to marry and respect for their marriages legally performed in other states. 

The case was originally brought by Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swainn, Haddad & Morecock, P.C., and joined by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Lambda Legal, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Read more about marriage litigation in Virginia.

As the case makes its way up through the courts, Virginians across the state will continue to do the work of having conversations about why marriage matters and creating a climate for victory.

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 ACTIVELY WORKING 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

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will stop defending state’s marriage ban

Today, July 28, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said that his office would stop defending marriage discrimination in the Tarheel State.

4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the freedom to marry in Virginia case

Today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA ruled in favor of same-sex couples’ freedom to marry, upholding a marriage ruling out of Virginia from February.

Reflecting on the 47th anniversary of ‘Loving v. Virginia’ at the Supreme Court

Today is the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, a landmark ruling that declared bans on interracial marriage in the United States unconstitutional.

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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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