US Supreme Court decision allows same-sex marriage in Virginia, other states

Same-sex marriage licenses will be available beginning at 1:00 PM.

Update #10 — October 6, 2014; 11:18 AM

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said same-sex marriage license will be available throughout the Commonwealth beginning at 1:00 PM.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Herring said he consulted with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after the U.S. Supreme court cleared the way for gay marriage in Virginia and four other states. He said the 4th Circuit will issue a mandate at 1 p.m. “and marriages can then begin. What a momentous and joyous day for thousands of Virginians.”

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Update #9 — October 6, 2014; 10:42 AM

Edward Jewett, the Circuit Court Clerk in charge of distributing marriage licenses in Richmond, said he expects the John Marshall Court House will be ready to process same-sex marriage licenses later today.

“We are checking with the State Supreme Court and Attorney General [Mark Herring],” he said by phone this morning. “Once we get the word from them to go forward, we will.”

When asked when that’ll likely happen, Jewett said: “It’ll be today, most likely.”

He and other circuit court clerks around the state are readying for an influx of same-sex marriage licenses after today’s US Supreme Court decision to turn away appeals from those hoping the high court would intervene in lower court decisions favoring same-sex marriages (see below). Essentially, Virginia and the other states affected by the decision just need to legally dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s before going forward.

“We’re just really waiting for the final word,” Jewett said.

Marriage licenses require $30 (cash only) and should be submitted in room 101 of the John Marshall Court House. Here’s the application (PDF).

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Update #8 — October 6, 2014; 10:17 AM

The US Supreme Court has rebuffed appeals from five states, including Virginia, seeking to overturn recent court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage.

This means the states, which have delayed fully implementing same-sex marriages due to outstanding appeals to the nation’s highest court, can soon distribute same-sex marriage certificates.

From the Associated Press:

The justices on Monday did not comment in rejecting appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The court’s order immediately ends delays on marriage in those states. Couples in six other states should be able to get married in short order.

That would make same-sex marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

But the justices have left unresolved for now the question of same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Update #7 — August 20, 2014; 3:59 PM

Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, sent these tweets following today’s Supreme Court decision (see below):

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Update #6 — August 20, 2014; 3:26 PM

The US Supreme Court voted today to delay same-sex marriage in Virginia by staying a ruling from the 4th US Court of Appeals (see below) that would have allowed the same-sex marriages beginning tomorrow at 8:00 AM.

For now, same-sex marriage in Virginia is on hold.

From the Washington Blade:

Although Chief Justice John Roberts is responsible for stay requests in the Fourth Circuit, the order indicates he referred the matter to the entire court. The vote by the Supreme Court on the decision isn’t included in the order.

The court adds that if the court ends up declining a writ of certiorari to hear the case, the stay will terminate automatically. But if the court decides to hear the case, the stay will continue until judgment is issued.

Oddly, the ruling from the nation’s High Court offers neither vote tally nor rationale for today’s decision.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“The cryptic nature of the court’s order makes it difficult to ascertain its reasoning,” said Carl Tobias, a professor for constitutional law at the University of Richmond School of Law.

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Update #5 — August 15, 2014; 1:24 PM

Opponents of gay marriage have predictably filed a stay application to US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees applications from the 4th District, seeking to overturn this week’s ruling that same-sex marriages may begin next week (see below). Roberts may handle the application himself, or have the Supreme Court consider the issue.

Roberts said lawyers seeking gay marriage recognition in Virginia must submit a response to their opponent’s stay application by 5:00 PM Monday.

If Roberts rejects the stay, gay marriages will commence in Virginia on Thursday, August 21st. Upholding the stay would complicate an already cloudy legal issue.

From Reuters:

In a case concerning a similar ruling in Utah that struck down the ban in that state, the Supreme Court ultimately blocked the ruling pending further appeals.

Without a stay of the Virginia ruling, the status of gay men and women who get married in the state would be unclear if the Supreme Court ultimately were to uphold the state’s ban.

The Supreme Court is expected to take at least one gay marriage case in the coming term, which begins in October and ends in June.

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Update #4 — August 14, 2014; 2:20 PM

According to GAYRVA, the 4th District Court of Appeals has said marriages will begin at 8:00 AM on Thursday, August 21st.

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Update #3 — August 13, 2014; 12:44 PM

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth District today denied a request seeking to delay implementation of its ruling last month (see below) overturning Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Unless the Supreme Court intervenes in the matter, same-sex couples in Virginia may file for marriage and have existing out-of-state marriages recognized beginning August 20th.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will leave this ruling in place, so that same-sex couples may begin marrying right away,” said Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia in a statement.

The organization — along with the ACLU and Lambda Legal — argued for today’s denial on behalf of the approximately 14,000 same-sex couples living in Virginia. “Our clients have already waited far too long to exercise their constitutional right to marry, or to have their marriages from other states recognized,” Gastañaga said.

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Update #2 — July 28, 2014; 2:31 PM

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, a ruling that will likely send the case to the Supreme Court. The 2-1 decision by appellate court upholds a 2006 federal judge ruling that the same-sex marriage ban voted into Virginia’s constitution by voters violates the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Judge Henry Floyd writing in today’s opinion (PDF):

We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch summarizes what today’s ruling means :

The decision will not take effect immediately. It will go into effect in 21 days, unless the defendants file a motion to stay the ruling – which they are likely to do. The case will then head to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

Here’s the reaction from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who in January made national news when he announced he wouldn’t enforce the state’s same-sex ban:

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Update #1 — February 14, 2014; 7:13 AM

Statement from Virginia Equality:

This is an historic day in Virginia. By sharing our personal stories and changing hearts and minds, Equality Virginia has been working toward marriage equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia for many years. The ruling finally puts Virginia on the path toward allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry the person they love here in the place they call home.

I am proud that here in Virginia we are no longer asking if the freedom to marry the person you love will be a reality, but instead we are asking when. With this ruling, we are one step closer to gaining full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians. Today Virginia is standing on the right side of history.

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Original — February 13, 2014

Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring announced Thursday night that Virginia’s ban on gay marriage has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge:

The full text of the opinion can be read here (PDF). More details as things develop.

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