West Virginia Attorney General Patrick
Morrisey last week asked a federal judge to keep from issuing a
ruling in a lawsuit challenging West Virginia's ban on gay marriage.
Plaintiff couples challenging the ban
asked U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers to issue a ruling in
their favor following the outcome in a related case challenging
On Monday, a 3-judge panel of the
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a lower court's
ruling striking down Virginia's ban. Defendants have said they will
appeal the decision to the
U.S. Supreme Court.
The Fourth Circuit holds jurisdiction
over North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland and
Virginia. After the court ruled, North Carolina Attorney General Roy
Cooper announced that his office would no
longer defend the state's marriage ban in court.
In June, Chambers said he was waiting
for the Fourth Circuit's decision before proceeding in the case.
“To lift the stay at this time and
move forward in this case based on a non-final decision of the Fourth
Circuit would defeat the very point of this Court having issued the
stay in the first place,” Morrisey's office stated in its brief.
New York-based Lambda Legal is
representing 3 gay couples and the child of one couple in the lawsuit
filed in October in U.S. District Court in Huntington. Lambda Legal
argues that West Virginia's ban violates the Due Process Clause and
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Lawyers previously asked Chambers to
strike down the state's law, enacted in 2000, prohibiting their
clients from marrying, saying that it is unconstitutional under any
standard of review.
“There's absolutely no reason for the
court not to decide this case,” Beth Littrell, an attorney with
Lambda Legal, is quoted as saying by The
Charleston Gazette. “It has clear precedent from the
appellate court that is binding on it. There's no reason to not go
forward and issue a decision in this case.”
In comments to NBC
affiliate WVVA, Morrisey said he filed the motion to prevent
“It's what a lot of Democrats and
Republicans have done around the country because you don't want to
have confusion,” Morrisey said. “West Virginia has 55 counties.
You don't want to have all the counties disagreeing with each other.
Just even in recent days, I've received calls, and I've seen requests
coming from the county clerks to rule on things, and they're getting