USA, Virginia: Marriage Equality Hearing Thursday; Governor Won’t Defend Ban

Written by scott on January 28th, 2014

Virginia District Judge Arenda AllenSome news coming out of Virginia – the federal judge hearing the marriage equality case has decided to go ahead with the hearing on Thursday.

Towleroad.com reports:

There had been some discussion that the judge might issue a ruling without hearing further arguments after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring last week declared the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and said he would not defend it in court. Following Herring’s statement, District Judge Arenda Allen (pictured) questioned the need for further arguments. Stuart A. Raphael, the state’s solicitor general who serves under Herring, said that while the “ongoing, harmful denial of civil liberties to Virginia’s same-sex couples” should be resolved as quickly as possible, the hearing should go forward. “The decision here will be a landmark ruling in Virginia on one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” Raphael wrote. “The gravity of the matter and the stakes involved make it reasonable to allow the parties to supplement their written submissions … with brief oral argument.”

This way, opponents will get their day in court, and can’t argue that they were cheated out of victory. But it looks likely that will have a ruling shortly after the hearing.

In related news, Governor Terry McAuliffe has rejected GOP calls to defend the ban in court.

The Washington Blade reports:

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday said he will not appoint a special counsel to defend his state’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. McAuliffe told state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) in a letter that he shares the view that “the effective administration of our legal system requires zealous advocacy on all matters before the courts.” The governor said Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer and Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Foundation of Virginia are “vigorously and appropriately” defending the state’ same-sex marriage ban after Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would not defend it.

A state GOP representative has introduced a bill that would give standing to any legislator who wants to defend the ban.

And the Arizona-based “Alliance Defending Freedom” has stepped in to represent one of the defendants.

The Washington Blade reports:

Court documents indicate the Alliance Defending Freedom on Monday filed a status report with Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Monday on behalf of Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg. Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer has tapped lawyers with former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Virginia Beach law firm to represent him in the case.

So if the ban falls, which looks likely, and if the judge does not issue a stay, and if the state does not appeal the ruling, is that mean immediate marriage equality for Virginia? Hey, it happened in New Jersey…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

 

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