Category:  Politics

Virginia’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage is Challenged

According to The Washington Post, Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage raised a heap of controversy in a federal appeals court on Tuesday. The 4th Circuit panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals was called to review the February ruling that bans and bars recognition of same-sex marriage and any type of legal union that resembles marriage in Virginia. The arguments swayed back and forth involving topics ranging from a seemingly related previous landmark court case to the effects that same-sex marriage has on the partners’ children. Two judges with polar opposite views acquired one question to be answered: does Virginia have the right to ban same-sex marriage or is the ban defended by the constitution’s depiction of marriage?

Roger L. Gregory, Circuit Judge, argued that this case is similar to Loving v. Virginia, which granted citizens the right to be openly married in 1967. “How long do same-sex couples have to wait?” he asked. Celebrity lawyers Theodore Olson and David Boies have joined Gregory to convince federal courts that the Virginia same-sex marriage ban is “unconstitutional.” Gregory told one of his opposing lawyers “the essence of marriage is the individual’s right to marry the person they choose."

Judge Paul V. Niemeyer disagreed with Gregory by stating that the constitution protects the fundamental right to marriage as “a union of husband and wife”. In regards to Loving v. Virgina, Niemeyer debated that there in fact is a difference between the two cases. He argued that the ability to conceive a child in an interracial marriage puts itself in the same category as traditional marriage.  Niemeyer then explained that the inability to conceive a child within a same-sex marriage classifies itself as a “brand new” relationship.

The third judge Henry F. Floyd seemingly supported the overturn of Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, but for a different reason than Gregory. Floyd’s questions were targeted towards the restriction on recognizing same-sex marriages that are performed in legalized states. David Austin R. Nimocks, a lawyer with the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, replied with, “The commonwealth is not required to recognize unions that are “inconsistent with its public policy." Another debate sparked when Olson challenged the court to see that the right to marriage is based on “individual liberty." Niemeyer responded with a question asking if that would give a man freedom to marry multiple wives or his own daughter.

Olson and Boies are hopeful that this appeal will get higher courts involved in the issue again. Along with the two lawyers, American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are challenging Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban as well.

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