The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in
Richmond on Tuesday heard arguments in a case challenging Virginia's
ban on gay marriage.
The Fourth Circuit is the second
appeals court to hear such a case, the first being the Tenth Circuit
in Denver, which heard cases challenging bans in Utah and Oklahoma
U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen
struck down the Virginia's restrictive marriage ban in a ruling
handed down in February.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
urged a 3-judge panel to affirm Allen's decision. He also appeared
at a press conference organized by plaintiffs' lawyers.
Plaintiffs in the case, Bostic v.
Schaefer, are two gay couples. Timothy Bostic and Tony London
have been together for nearly 25 years. Last year, the couple was
denied a marriage license by the Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk. Carol
Schall and Mary Townley, together nearly 30 years, married in
California in 2008. They are asking the court to force the
Commonwealth of Virginia to recognize their out-of-state marriage.
The couple is raising a 15-year-old daughter.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Mary, said in a statement that momentum was on the side of equality
“The momentum is undeniable, but
every day's denial is a real hardship to families in the states, like
Virginia, where the Constitution's guarantees are still unfulfilled,”
Wolfson said. “The 4th Circuit should follow the lead
of the lower courts, and the language and logic of the Supreme
Court's ruling last year, and end marriage discrimination now.”
Hundreds of people representing both
sides rallied outside the courtroom as attorneys made their cases
According to the Daily
Press, marriage equality foes outnumbered supporters.
Opponents waved signs which read “Children do best with mom and
dad” and “Marriage is about the image of God,” while supporters
countered with signs which read “Love changes the world” and
“Marry who you love.”