Tuesday, July 29, 2014

4th Circuit Invalidates Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Continuing an unbroken string of victories for marriage equality proponents, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, in a 2-1 decision, struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. This is the second federal appeals court to rule on same-sex marriage bans.  In Bostic v. Schaefer, (4th Cir., July 28, 2014), the majority held:
the Virginia Marriage Laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the extent that they prevent same-sex couples from marrying and prohibit Virginia from recognizing same-sex couples’ lawful out-of-state marriages. 
The court added:
We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.
As reported by the New York Times, the appeal to the 4th Circuit was carried forward by two court clerks after Virginia's attorney general refused to appeal the district court's decision striking down Virginia's bans. They are expected to seek a stay of the court's decision pending an en banc appeal or a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court.