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Historic Virginia Decision Upholds Marriage Equality

Ruling solidifies Virginia's unique place in the marriage history after the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case overturning interracial marriage laws

New York/San Francisco  28 July 2014  

Today’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Virginia’s Bostic v. Schaeffer marks the second federal appeals court that has ruled in favor of marriage equality since last year's historic Windsor ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. (The decision today follows the June rulings by a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Utah’s Kitchen v. Herbert and Okahoma's Bishop v. Smith.)

Today’s ruling solidifies Virginia’s already unique place in the U.S. history of marriage. In 1967 the Supreme Court of the United States handed down what we today refer to as “the Loving decision,” in Loving v. Virginia, the landmark civil rights decision which overturned the laws against interracial marriage. In 2007 Loving plaintiff Mildred Loving stated her support for marriage equality: “I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.

"Jeff and I were overjoyed last year when we were finally able to marry in his home state of California," said native Virginian Thom Watson. "But our marriage wasn't recognized in my home state, where we met and started building a life together eleven years ago. We are thrilled for the many loving couples in Virginia whose equality was affirmed by today's ruling, and we look forward to the day when our marriages will be recognized throughout the U.S.”

From the decision:

"Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual's life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance."

MEUSA Program Director Tracy Hollister noted that the Fourth Circuit is the governing judicial circuit for Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and her home state of North Carolina. She has been following the Fourth Circuit closely. "I am thrilled that the Fourth Circuit set legal precedent that, once final, will help undo North Carolina’s Amendment One, making it our country’s most short-lived and last anti-marriage equality amendment," said Hollister. "This ruling affirms what I felt in my heart as my friends and I phone banked to defeat Amendment One: each of us deserves the full dignity and respect that comes with being able to legally marry the person we love. When I return home, I will feel more equal and more hopeful."



Executive Director Brian Silva · (347) 913-6369 ·

Social Media Manager Thom Watson · (650) 450-8466 ·