A federal judge late Thursday struck
down Virginia's ban on gay marriage.
“Virginia's marriage laws … limit
the fundamental right to marry to only those Virginia citizens
willing to choose a member of the opposite gender for a spouse.
These laws interject profound government interference into one of the
most personal choices a person makes,” U.S. District Judge Arenda
Wright Allen said in her ruling handed down less than 10 days after
hearing oral arguments in the case, Bostic v. Rainey.
“The Court is compelled to conclude
that Virginia's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia's gay
and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,”
Allen stayed her ruling pending an
The American Foundation for Equal
Rights (AFER), which successfully litigated against a similar ban in
California, joined the suit in September.
“This is a monumental victory – for
Virginia and our country – and the first of its kind for a state in
the South,” AFER said in an emailed statement announcing the
The suit received a boost last month
when Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he would
not defend the ban in court, leaving the task to the Circuit Court of
Clerks of Norfolk and Prince William County.