Federal appeals court strikes down Virginia gay marriage ban

A federal appeals court upheld a ruling on Monday by a lower court judge that found Virginia's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled 2-1 that preventing same-sex couples from marrying was nothing more than segregation, The New York Times reports.

The voter-approved ban "prohibits [same-sex couples] from participating fully in our society," Judge Henry F. Floyd said in the majority opinion, "which is precisely the type of segregation that the 14th Amendment cannot countenance."

The two court clerks who defended the gay marriage ban in Virginia said they were looking at their options, but they are expected to seek a stay on the ruling, which isn't set to go into effect for 21 days.

With the help of an Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer, Byron Babione, the two defended the law after state Attorney General, Mark R. Herring, opted not to support the ban.

It seems all but inevitable that the U.S. Supreme Court will have to rule on state bans on gay marriages as legal challenges have all gone in the favor of striking down the laws. A 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel has upheld lower court rulings, siding against both Oklahoma and Utah.

According to The Washington Post, the 4th Circuit appellate court's decision will affect West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Maryland as well. Same-sex marriage is already legal in the last state.

"I have never seen anything like it, where an important constitutional issue has been decided again and again and again by federal courts throughout the United States in precisely the same way," attorney Theodore B. Olson said. He helped challenge the ban in court.

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