A federal appeals court on Wednesday
denied a request to stay its ruling striking down Virginia's ban on
gay marriage, which means gay and lesbian couples could start
marrying as early as next Wednesday, assuming the Supreme Court does
not take action.
“Upon the consideration of
submissions relative to the motion to stay mandate, the court denies
the motion,” the three-judge panel wrote, noting that Judge Paul V.
Niemeyer voted to grant the motion.
Michelle B. McQuigg, clerk of Prince
William County's Circuit Court, had asked the Fourth Circuit Court of
Appeals in Richmond to delay implementation of its ruling, handed
down in late July, as the case is appealed to the Supreme Court.
In filing the request, McQuigg said
that a delay would “ensure the orderly resolution of the important
constitutional question presented in this case while avoiding
uncertainty for the public and irreparable injury to the
The Fourth Circuit's decision would
also affect similar bans in West Virginia, North Carolina and South
Nancy Leong, a law professor at the
University of Denver, told the
AP that the appeals court's decision “shows that there's no
longer a justification to keep same-sex couples from marrying.”
“Given how many different judges in
so many different parts of the country … have reached the same
result, it seems highly likely that the plaintiffs will ultimately
prevail on the merits, and I think that, in turn, explains why the
Fourth Circuit was not willing to grant a stay.”
McQuigg is represented by the Christian
conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, whose lawyer, Ken Connelly,
said the group will ask the Supreme Court to intervene.
Chief Justice John Roberts oversees the