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, and the mandate is scheduled to issue on Thursday, August 21. 

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. 

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. 

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

U.S. Supreme Court puts 4th Circuit ruling on hold

Today, August 20, the United States Supreme Court granted a request for a stay in this summer's marriage ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that ordered the freedom to marry in Virginia and paved the way for the freedom to marry in North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.

4th Circuit Court of Appeals denies request to delay marriage ruling

Today, August 13, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit denied a motion from defendant Michele McQuigg to grant a stay in the mandate of their marriage ruling from late last month.

Defendants in 3 marriage cases will seek review from U.S. Supreme Court

This weekend, the defendants in two marriage cases - out of Oklahoma and Virginia - indicated that they would seek review from the United States Supreme Court in federal appellate rulings in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

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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".

See All »