Marriage equality in Virginia? Heck yeah!
This morning the Court issued additional orders from its September 29 Conference. Most notably, the Court denied review of all seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.
The Supreme Court had issued the first round of orders from the September 29 Conference last Thursday, adding eleven new cases to its docket for the new Term. Many people had anticipated that one or more of the same-sex marriage petitions might be on that list, but the Court did not act on any of them at the time. Last month Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had suggested that the Court might not step into the controversy at this point, because there was no disagreement among the lower courts on that issue. Today her prediction proved true, with the Court denying review (without any comment) of the seven petitions: Bogan v. Baskin (Indiana); Walker v. Wolf (Wisconsin); Herbert v. Kitchen (Utah); McQuigg v. Bostic (Virginia); Rainey v. Bostic (Virginia); Schaefer v. Bostic (Virginia); and Smith v. Bishop (Oklahoma).
Legally married in Virginia? Heck yeah! 🙂
UPDATE: Statements issued by various folks, in case you haven’t seen them.
via AFER Press:
“This is a momentous victory for the constitutional promise of equality, dignity and justice for all Americans,” said Theodore B. Olson of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Plaintiff’s lead co-counsel. “Today, I am proud to call myself a Virginian. With the Commonwealth’s discriminatory marriage ban finally and conclusively struck down, we are one giant step closer to the day that all Americans, not just Virginians, can enjoy their right to marriage equality under the law.”
“Those who drew and ratified our Constitution over two centuries ago set out to form a more perfect Union. Today, that goal has once again been realized,” said Plaintiff’s lead co-counsel David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. “The unjust and unlawful discrimination imposed by laws like Virginia’s marriage ban have seen their final days. Our Constitution promises freedom and justice for all, and today that promise was fulfilled for thousands of gay and lesbian Virginians and their families.”
“A majority of Americans, more than 30 state and federal courts, scores of political and religious leaders, countless Fortune 500 Companies, and our President have all long believed in the promise of equality for gay and lesbian Americans,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. “While today brings justice to 5 more states, there are still 26 states that treat their gay and lesbian neighbors like second-class citizens. We hope that the Supreme Court’s order today will lead to all 50 states enjoying the freedom to marry very soon.”
“What a great day to be a Virginian, and a great day to be an American,” said Plaintiff Tim Bostic. “Today, we have made history in the South, and I can’t wait for the day that all of our fellow Americans feel the same way and have the same rights that we do today.”
“Because of this decision, one of my most important dreams has finally come true: The dream that my family will be recognized just like every other family in Virginia,” said Emily, daughter of plaintiffs Carol Schall and Mary Townley. “I am so thankful that other children like me can finally hold their heads high knowing their families matter and are finally equal. I cannot wait for the day that all American kids, no matter where they live and no matter who their parents are, are treated equally.”
“This is a wonderful day for our clients and all Virginians,” said Tom Shuttleworth of Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock, who also represented the Plaintiffs. “I am proud that Virginia has joined the other 19 states on the right side of history. It has been a great honor and privilege for our firm and team of exceptional lawyers to help lead this amazing journey from its beginning days in Norfolk, Virginia.”
AG Mark Herring:
“A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through.
“All Virginians have the constitutional right to be treated fairly and equally, to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward.
“This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience.”
Sen. Mark Warner:
Sen. Tim Kaine:
“In letting the Fourth Circuit’s decision stand, the Supreme Court has given loving couples across the Commonwealth the freedom to marry. I join countless Virginians in celebrating the end of the discriminatory constitutional ban that has denied same-sex couples this fundamental right. Today, we have taken a major step toward Jefferson’s ideal that ‘all men are created equal.’”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe:
“This is a historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country. On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.
“I applaud all of the Virginians who gave so much time and effort in the fight for equality, and congratulate my friend Attorney General Mark Herring on this important victory for justice and equal treatment under the law.
“Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well.”
State Sen. Donald McEachin:
“I am very pleased and excited that gay Virginians will now be able to marry. This is a significant step forward in achieving justice and fairness for all. I eagerly await the day when it won’t matter what state a person lives in — when every American can marry the person he or she loves. We need to remove every vestige of prejudice and discrimination so that all Americans — no matter their skin color, their religion, or their sexual or gender orientation — can experience equality, fairness and justice in their communities.”