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 last month.

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 advocates.

“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 inside.

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.”