Norfolk judge enters judgment in same-sex marriage case

Photo by WAVY/LaVoy Harrell
Photo by WAVY/LaVoy Harrell

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk federal judge who presided over Bostic v. Rainey entered her judgment for the case Monday afternoon, which was quickly followed by a notice of appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court.

In a late-night announcement Feb. 13, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The ruling came after arguments were heard in the case initiated by Tim Bostic and his partner, Tony London, a Norfolk same-sex couple.

Allen said in the ruling Virginia’s “laws deny the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s notice of appeal with the Fourth Circuit is a “procedural move that will help expedite the appeals process, but not change the Commonwealth’s position that it is unconstitutional to deny the rights of marriage to same-sex couples,” according to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General.

In 2006, Virginians voted to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia to define marriage as solely between one man and woman. Herring announced shortly after he took office this year 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.

“Throughout this process, I have maintained that the law requires equal treatment for same-sex couples,” said Attorney General Herring on Monday. “Although the court agreed with the Commonwealth’s position that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, I have filed a notice of appeal to ensure that higher courts can swiftly rule on the critical issues in this case, consistent with my commitment to the rule of law.”

If Allen’s decision stands through the appeals process, it will make Virginia one of the first states of the south to repeal a ban against same-sex marriage.

The Fourth Circuit set the briefing schedule for the appeal Tuesday, with the appellant’s opening brief due April 7 and the appellee’s response due May 9. View the full order by clicking here.

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