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Federal judge asked to note Ky. gay marriage ruling in considering Va. case

Thursday, February 13, 2014
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NORFOLK, Va.- With a ruling on Virginia’s ban on gay marriages pending, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office asked a federal judge to take note of a recent ruling in Kentucky that said the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen

In a filing hours after the Kentucky ruling came down Wednesday, Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael asked U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen to consider the Kentucky ruling as she prepares to make her own in a similar case in Norfolk.

A gay couple who wants to marry and a lesbian couple who wants their California marriage recognized are challenging Virginia’s voter-approved constitutional ban on gay marriages in a lawsuit.

The Virginia Attorney General’s Office has decided not to defend the state’s ban and is siding with the plaintiffs, saying the ban violates the 14th Amendment. Verbal arguments in the case were heard last week.

Since then, the Kentucky ruling has come down and the Nevada Attorney General’s Office has also said it won’t defend its own gay marriage ban in a case that is pending before a federal appeals court.

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Raphael asked Wright Allen to take note of those cases, as well as a recent decision by a judge in West Virginia deciding not to dismiss a constitutional challenge to that state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

In the Kentucky case, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II concluded that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbians differently in a “way that demeans them.” Heyburn did not rule on whether the state could be forced to perform same-sex marriages. The question was not included in that lawsuit.

In the Nevada case, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto filed a motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that said Nevada’s legal arguments supporting the voter-approved prohibition aren’t viable in light of the court’s recent ruling that said potential jurors cannot be removed from a trial during j ury selection solely because of sexual orientation.

It is unclear when Wright Allen might rule in the Virginia lawsuit. At the closing of verbal arguments, she said she would issue a ruling “soon.”

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