Federal judge rules Virginia’s ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional

By Daniel S Levine,

A federal judge has ruled that Virginia’s ban on same sex marriage, which was approved by voters, is unconstitutional. It’s the second time this week that a Southern state has had its ban struck down by a judge.

However, like the ruling in Kentucky on Wednesday, Thursday’s ruling does not mean that Virginian officials will be giving out marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples immediately. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen did issue a stay on her order, giving the commonwealth an opportunity to appeal her decision.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring did not defend the ban, as he believes it was in violation of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which Wright Allen agreed.

“Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country's cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family,” Wright Allen wrote in her ruling.

Wright Allen’s stay will help Virginia avoid the awkward situation that happened in Utah after a judge ruled that state’s ban unconstitutional. There, over 1,000 gay and lesbian couples married and the Supreme Court ultimately had to issue a stay to give the state a chance to appeal. Oklahoma’s ban was also called unconstitutional recently and that state is appealing the decision as well.

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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