July 28, 2014
UPDATED: 6:49 PM
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled two to one that barring same-sex marriage and denying recognition of such unions performed in other states violates the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit was filed by two Norfolk men who were denied a marriage license and two Chesterfield County women whose marriage in California is not recognized by Virginia.
“It's about love,” says Mary Townley. “I love my wife Carol and I love my daughter Emily, we are a family.”
Townley, who is a part of the lawsuit, says that it's time for a change in Virginia and around the country.
“Things change, people's view's change, and if you look at how all across the country states have marriage equality now.”
This was a win for same-sex couples, but not everyone is excited about today's ruling.
“It's disappointing because it ends the discussion that our state has been having,” says Victoria Cobb of the Family Foundation of Virginia. “We voted on a constitutional amendment, that was the process.”
“The majority of Virginians agreed with marriage between one man and one woman, so we're disappointed that the court would step in and overturn that election.”
The Virginia gay marriage case is one of several that could go to the U.S. Supreme Court. A professor at the UVa law school says it is a complicated case that could be challenged.
“This case, like the case is California has a complicated standing question,” says Deborah Hellman, F.D.G. Ribble Professor of Law. “That is, who is it that gets to challenge what the fourth circuit has done.”
“Normally the state defends its own law and with the elected officials in Virginia no longer wanting to defend the law it has an additional complication it won't just be about the issue of same sex marriage.”
The judges in the case are allowing 21 days for same-sex marriage opponents to appeal the ruling to a higher court, before it is set in stone.