NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Attorney General Mark Herring said Virginia has been on the wrong side of landmark civil rights cases during a press conference following arguments on Virginia’s gay marriage ban.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday, arguments were heard in the case of Bostic v. Rainey in a federal courtroom in Norfolk. Tim Bostic and Tony London are a gay couple living in Norfolk who wanted to obtain a marriage license and were denied. They filed a lawsuit challenging the ban last year.
Herring announced shortly after he took office he believed Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and would not defend the law in federal lawsuits. Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael argued in court on behalf of the Commonwealth.
WAVY News’ Anne McNamara was at the hearing and said Judge Arenda Wright Allen told those in the courtroom they would hear a ruling soon. What the judge meant by ‘soon’ was not clear.
McNamara said the Commonwealth did not argue against the couple and instead argued with them. Counsel for Bostic and London argued marriage is not about having children, it’s about freedom.
Protestors and supporters gathered outside the courthouse as the sun came up Tuesday.
During the press conference, Herring said Virginia has too often found itself on the wrong side of landmark civil rights cases:
“Today was a very significant day in the journey towards full equality under the law for all Virginians. I am proud to say that the Commonwealth of Virginia stood on the right side of the law and the right side of history today in opposing this discriminatory ban.
“This case is fundamentally about whether Virginia can legally treat same-sex couples as second-class citizens, or whether the U.S. Constitution truly guarantees equality under the law. But this is more than an abstract legal debate. The answer to this question affects the lives of thousands of Virginians who are our friends, our neighbors, coworkers, fellow parishioners at our churches, our brothers and our sisters, and they deserve to be treated exactly the same as all other Virginians.
“Although we have much to be proud of, there have been times where brave Virginians have led the fight for civil rights while their state stood against them. Whether it was the right to a public education regardless of race, the right to marry the person you love regardless of skin color, or the right to attend state colleges and universities regardless of gender, Virginia has too often found itself on the wrong side of landmark civil rights cases. The injustice of Virginia’s position in those cases will not be repeated this time. Today, the Commonwealth of Virginia got it right.”
At the same time, another press conference was being held by members of clergy in the area. They argued gay marriage is morally indefensible.
Additionally, the Virginia Christian Alliance is sending petitions of impeachment of Herring across the Commonwealth.
Stay with WAVY.com for more on this developing story.