Virginia

STATUS:

Anti-relationship recognition constitutional amendment; a federal judge has ruled that the amendment is unconstitutional, and the decision is now on appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, with the ruling stayed.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: 

On February 13, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry and respect for their marriages legally performed in other states. 

The ruling was in Bostic v. Rainey, filed on behalf of two same-sex couples by private lawyers and later joined by the American Foundation for Equal Rights. A separate case filed by Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Virginia - Harris v. Rainey - has been certified as a class-action lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. 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

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.

TODAY: 4th Circuit Appeals Court hears oral arguments in Virginia marriage case

This week, on Tuesday, May 13, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond will hear oral arguments in Bostic v. Rainey, a federal lawsuit that seeks the freedom to marry in Virginia.

Q&A: What’s Happening with Marriage in the Courts?

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson describes the dynamic litigation landscape and explains how all Americans can do their part in creating the climate for these courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court - to rule in favor of marriage nationwide as soon as possible.

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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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