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Virginia

Federal court rejects motion to dismiss challenge to Va. same-sex marriage ban

Monday, December 23, 2013

HARRISONBURG, Va. — A federal court on Monday rejected a motion from the Staunton Circuit Court Clerk seeking to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year on behalf of two couples by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Virginia, Lambda Legal, and the law firm Jenner and Block, will move forward with the Staunton Circuit Court Clerk and the Registrar of Vital Records remaining as named defendants.

ACLU Virginia
Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd

ACLU Virginia
Joanne Harris and Jessi Duff

U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski in Harrisonburg said in Monday’s ruling that Gov. Bob McDonnell is protected by the constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, he refused to dismiss Staunton Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Roberts as a defendant. The other defendant is Janet Rainey, the state registrar of vital records.

The couples — Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester — filed the lawsuit on August 1.

They claim Virginia’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage and denying recognition of such unions sanctioned by other states violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution.

“We’re grateful that we have the chance to move ahead to challenge this discriminatory ban on behalf of loving and committed Virginia couples,” said Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia.

“We will continue to fight for families in Virginia and all across the country,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “All loving families deserve the protection and dignity that come with marriage.”

“The court recognized that ‘it is abundantly clear that plaintiffs’ alleged harm is actual, concrete, and particularized,’” noted Lambda Legal Counsel Greg Nevins.

“We couldn’t agree more, and we are happy that the court is going to force Virginia to defend its marriage exclusion on the merits,” he said.

The lawsuit is one of two challenges seeking to overturn Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. A Norfolk couple filed a lawsuit in federal court in July.

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32 more reader comments:

  1. sweet family.. brad bronco you are hateful….what is wrong with you???

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:41pm
  2. There awesome!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:41pm
  3. Brad, your pic… I have it saved to my computer… Please tell me you didn’t just make a homophobic statement when you have a default cowboy picture as your profile pic…

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:44pm
  4. brad is a douche!

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 10:18pm
  5. Federal judges are making sure the lgbt community has a happy, joyful holiday season

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:45pm
  6. In other words: they're doing their freaking job!!!

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 5:00am
  7. Do you thimk that your vote on anything should count? The majority of the people voted against this but one judge overturned the majority vote what if it was something that you voted for how would you feel then

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:57pm
  8. Sidebar: that is one if the cutest babies I’ve ever seen! What a lucky kid! Two loving parents!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:45pm
  9. ım lesbian with knowing lesbo lgbt

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:45pm
  10. Next!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:46pm
  11. Tamera Howell and Wendy Hunt! Sounds like an early Christmas present!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:46pm
  12. Oh dear god, your name is Babycakes too… Dude, I’m homosexual and you’re even more gay than I am.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:46pm
  13. When will the VA court mandate that VA follow the US Constitution and recognize/permit same sex civil marriage equality?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 10:19pm
  14. WORK IT, ALL FREE IN VIRGINIA NOWWW!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 10:38pm
  15. LOVING V VIRGINIA ALL OVER AGAIN

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:06pm
  16. BOOM!!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:11pm
  17. So far, so good, then.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:19pm
  18. Adorable family:)

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:19pm
  19. great victory, cute couple and baby!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:20pm
  20. Come on VA!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:58pm
  21. Awesome good news like in Arkansas too!!!!!* :-)))

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:57am
  22. If you are LGBTQ or know someone who is please sign and share this petition! Its time for marriage equality to be everywhere! We need 100,000 signatures by January 19, 2014. I know we can do it!

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/legalize-same-sex-marriage-all-50-states/VN19ljgk

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:08am
  23. Beautiful family.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:31am
  24. Dr. Turing is one of my idols. I had to share this, and expound on it. I imagine that my fellow mathematicians and computer scientists must be proud today. I am pleased to see this post.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:33am
  25. Yay!!!! Come on Va!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:46am
  26. I still think Virginia is going to pave the way for the South. :)

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:04am
  27. Doubtful. No one in the Deep South (LA, MS, AL, GA, Florida panhandle) cares about what Virgina does, considers it "the South," or even knows that it was once the capital thereof. Hell, Louisianians don't even consider the likes of Kentuckians and Tennesseers as "southern!" :(

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 5:10am
  28. That is such a cute baby!! :)

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:51am
  29. Please approve it..

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:26am
  30. Cool

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:34am
  31. I love my Virginia…..Our Commonwealth might be the next state to legalize same sex marriage!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 8:53am
  32. Timothy, rights should not be voted on. A majority of Americans wanted segregation as well, but that was wrong. Same discrimination, different group of people.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:10pm