Marriage Equality USA

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State of West Virginia
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Current Status


HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

  • A state statute defined marriage between a man and a woman. 
  • In 2009, a bill that would amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage in the state,The Marriage Protection Amendment, was overwhelmingly voted down by the House of Delegates. All 29 House Republicans and 1 Democrat had voted, unsuccessfully, to move the measure out of committee. The amendment was heavily supported by religious Evangelical groups in the state, and by the Family Council Policy of West Virginia. 
  • In 2010, The Marriage Protection Amendment was re-introduced in both the House of Delegates and the Senate. Republican efforts to discharge the measure from the House Constitutional Revision Committee were defeated. The amendment was later defeated in the Senate.
  • In December 2011, Delegate John Doyle introduced a bill to legalize civil unions in West Virginia as one of his last acts before his 2012 retirement. It was submitted to the House of Delegates in February 2012 where it died without a vote.
  • Prior to marriage, West Virginia extended hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples through a "designated visitor" statute.
  • There are no statewide protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Per SCOTUS' denial of cert in Virginia's Bostic, on 6 October 2014, West Virginia legalized marriage equality at the state level on 9 October 2014. 

Legislation - Pending

None. Three anti-gay bills, HB 2881, HB 2508 and SB 487, "died" for all intents and purposes when the legislative session cended at midnight 14 March 2015.

Legislation - Enacted

None.

Lawsuits - Pending

None.

Lawsuits - Resolved

Casie Jo McGee, et al. v. Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, et al.

Case #: 3:13-24068
Court Level: Federal District Court (4th)
Date Filed: 1 October 2013
Date of Ruling: 7 November 2014

Description:

  • 1 October 2013, Fairness WV and Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit for 3 couples challenging the state law that bans marriage equality.
  • 23 October 2013, the U.S. District court gave clerks from Kanawha and Cabell counties up to 60 extra days to respond to the suit, so that WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey could decide whether to intervene.
  • 22 November 2013, the WV Attorney General announced that he would defend the WV ban on marriage equality.
  • 17 December 2013, the WV attorney general asked the judge to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs, who are not now legally married anywhere, are suffering no harm.
  • 31 December 2013, the plaintiffs asked for a summary judgment.
  • 28 January 2014, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers denied WV’s motion to dismiss the suit, and ruled that most of the suit can proceed, but because none of the plaintiffs is actually married, none have legal standing to challenge WV for ignoring out-of-state marriages.
  • 10 June 2014, the Judge Chambers ordered a stay of proceedings until there is a ruling in Virginia’s Bostic v. Schaefer (4th Circuit Court of Appeals).
  • 29 July 2014, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a motion requesting to continue the stay in this case on merits, but proceed on jurisdictional and procedural questions, until the ruling in Bostic is final and SCOTUS reviews it.
  • 30 July 2014, the plaintiffs filed an objection to continuing the stay. They asked for the stay to be lifted and for the Court to enter judgment.
  • 16 September 2014, the court issued an extension of the stay pending resolution of the Virginia appeal to SCOTUS in Bostic
  • 6 October 2014, the plaintiffs' filed a Motion to lift stay and enter judgment. West Virginia is in the 4th Circuit. Therefore, the Bostic ruling, which became final today, is binding precedent for this case. 
  • 9 October 2014, this case has not concluded and there is no federal injunction in place, yet. Attorney General's statement.
  • 9 October 2014, the W.VA Attorney General said he will respect the SCOTUS decision on October 6th to deny cert to the VA Bostic case and will take steps to conclude this litigation!
  • 20 October 2014, the Attorney General on behalf of the State of West Virginia renewed his request that this case be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and thereby bring this matter to a close. 
  • 20 October 2014, the Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick filed her Joinder in the response
  • 21 October 2014, the Cabell County Clerk claimed against this defendant should be dismissed as moot.
  • 21 October 2014, and, the Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick filed her Joinder in the response.
  • 7 November 2014, U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers formally granted judgment for the plaintiffs. Case concluded.
  • 2 December 2015, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Attorney's Fees and a Memo in Support of the Motion.
  • 16 January 2015, the defendants' (County Clerks) filed their Opposition to the plaintiffs' Motion for attorney fees and costs.
  • 16 January 2015, the West Virginia Assn of County Officials' filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants' Opposition to attorney fees and costs (w/motion for leave to file).
  • 16 January 2015, Defendant-Intervenor State of West Virginia's filed its Opposition to attorney fees and costs.
  • 26 January 2015, the plaintiffs filed their Reply in support of attorney fees and costs.
  • 6 March 2015, the plaintiffs filed a supplemental authority in support of their motion for attorney fees.
  • 16 July 2015, from Equality Case Files: The State of West Virginia is ordered to pay $99,804.64 in attorney fees and costs. Plaintiffs requested $342,576.25 in attorney fees. The Court reduced the hours to 1/3 those requested and reduced the hourly rate for the non-local attorneys and granted $92,125. The Court awarded the full $7,679.64 requested costs. Further, the Court determined that the county officials who were sued in their official capacities were "acting as state agents, rather than county officials, at the time of Plaintiffs’ injuries. Accordingly, they are considered state officials for the purposes" of this suit. As such, the state will be responsible for paying the full amount of the award.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • A September 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that 23% of West Virginia voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 70% thought it should be illegal and 7% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 49% of West Virginia voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 20% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 48% favoring no legal recognition and 4% not sure. Poll Details