Americans for Marriage Equality

State ResourcesVirginia

Status: Constitutional ban on marriage equality declared unconstitutional by federal court – stayed pending appeal.

In Bostic v. Schaeffer, two same-sex couples, represented by Ted Olson, David Boies and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, are challenging Virginia's marriage ban in federal court. The plaintiffs argue that the ban violates their rights to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. In January 2014, the Virginia Attorney General changed the state's position in the case, arguing instead that the marriage ban is unconstitutional; however, other government officials remain defendants in the case. On February 13, 2014, the court ruled that Virginia's ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional; however the judge stayed her ruling pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

On March 10, 2014, the Fourth Circuit granted a request by the plaintiffs in Harris v. Rainey (see below) to intervene in the Bostic case.  On May 13, 2014, a three-judge panel heard arguments in the Bostic case, with Ted Olson, James Esseks of the ACLU and Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael arguing against the state amendment on behalf of the four plaintiff couples. Click here for audio of the proceedings: http://1.usa.gov/1hLBKYP

The Fourth Circuit ruled on July 28 to uphold the district court's decision striking down the state's ban on marriage equality.  The defendants have indicated they will appeal the Fourth Circuit's decision directly to the Supreme Court of the United States, which blocked marriages from beginning while the case is appealed

In Harris v. Rainey, two same-sex couples, represented by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, are challenging Virginia's marriage ban as a class action on behalf of all Virginia same-sex couples in federal court. The plaintiffs argue that the ban violates their rights to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. In January 2014, the Virginia Attorney General changed the state's position in the case, arguing instead that the marriage ban is unconstitutional; however, other government officials remain defendants in the case. On January 31, 2014, the judge agreed that the case can proceed as a class action. . After the district court's ruling in Bostic (see above), the plaintiffs asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to allow them to intervene in that case on appeal; this request was granted on March 10, 2014 and the Fourth Circuit will hear oral arguments the week of May 12, 2014.