Today, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that Virginia’s ban on marriage for lesbian and gay couples is unconstitutional in the case Bostic v. McDonnell brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Her ruling is stayed pending appeal, meaning marriages will not occur immediately in the commonwealth. Human Rights Campaign President and AFER co-founder and board member Chad Griffin issued the following statement:
“Yet another court has upheld the fundamental idea that gay and lesbian Americans are entitled to full equality under the law. Nearly fifty years ago, another Virginia case struck down bans on interracial marriage across the country, and now this commonwealth brings renewed hope for an end to irrational barriers to marriage for loving and committed couples across the country.
“Following recent decisions in Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio and Kentucky this Virginia ruling proves that marriage equality is once again on the fast track to the United States Supreme Court. From the South to the Midwest, this historic progress sends a message that no American should have to wait for equality, no matter where they live.
“Right now this nation is divided into two Americas—one where full legal equality is nearly a reality, and the other where even the most basic protections of the law are nonexistent for loving gay and lesbian couples. We cannot and will not tolerate that patchwork of discrimination, and we won’t stop fighting until fairness and dignity reaches each and every American in all 50 states.”
Tim Bostic and Tony London as well as Carol Schall and Mary Townley are the two plaintiff couples challenging Virginia’s amendment. Tim and Tony have been together for nearly 25 years, and Carol and Mary, who are also raising a teenage daughter, have been together for 30. Carol and Mary are also long-time HRC members, and it was through HRC’s plaintiff recruitment efforts that the couple came to join this historic case.
The Virginia ruling comes on the heels of a year-long string of electoral, judicial and legislative victories for marriage equality. Recently the New Mexico Supreme Court and a federal district judges in Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio and Kentucky have ruled in favor of marriage for lesbian and gay couples.