US: Gay rights groups hope for swift ruling in Virginia equal marriage case

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A motion was filed on Monday for summary judgement asking the court in Virginia for a swift resolution to the challenge to the state’s ban on equal marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, and Lambda Legal, filed a motion for the judgement to be made swiftly.

“The papers we filed today ask the court to get to the heart of the matter,” Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

“Barring same-sex couples from marriage is clearly unconstitutional. We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or Virginia.”

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. said: “Virginians denied the freedom to marry have no meaningful legislative path to gain the same protections for their families as other loving and committed couples.

“That’s why we’ve had to ask the federal court to overturn Virginia’s sweeping bans on recognizing same-sex relationships. We shouldn’t have to go to federal court to get Virginia to do what’s right.” she continued.

The groups filed the lawsuit on 1 August this year, which argues that the state’s constitutional and statutory marriage bans, and enforcements of them, constitutes that the state views gay and lesbian citizens and their children as second-class citizens.

The plaintiffs in the case: Joanne Harris, 38, and Jessica Duff, 33, together since 2006, are from Staunton and have a four-year-old son, Jabari. Christy Berghoff, 34, and Victoria Kidd, 35, are from Winchester and have been together almost ten years. They have a ten-month-old daughter, Lydia.

“Over the past few years, an increasing number of Americans, and a majority of Virginians, have recognized that it is wrong to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples who are their friends, family and neighbors,” said Joshua Block, Staff Attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project.

“It is unfortunate that, once again, it will take a federal court to ensure that all Virginians have the freedom to marry the person they love and that their families are treated equally under the law.”

Back in July, a poll revealed that more than half of Virginia voters offered their support for equal marriage, with a clear majority of females approving of it.