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Federal Judge Rules Virginia’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional


Virginia must also recognize same-sex marriages from other states

A Virginia federal court has ruled not only that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but also that same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Virginia and that it must recognize marriages performed in other states. However couples cannot get married right away, as Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, expecting her ruling to be appealed, has stayed her decision.

The ruling came in the case of Bostic v. Rainey and in her opinion, Judge Wright Allen wrote, "Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships. Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices--choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference."

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has shown his support for Judge Wright Allen's decision, calling it "significant step forward in achieving greater equality for all" Virginians."

Such same-sex marriage bans are under scrutiny in the South. In a similar decision, a District Judge John G. Heyburn ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Challenges to same-sex marriage bans have also been filed in Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas.

This ruling and the ones in Oklahoma and Utah, which found same-sex marriage bans in those states unconstitutional, may find their way to the Supreme Court.

Read Judge Wright Allen's ruling here.

Spencer Geiger, Carl Johansen, and Robert Robert Roman protesting on February 4, 2014, in Norfolk, Virginia. | Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images

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Alex Panisch