NORFOLK, Va. — A Virginia couple on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Tony London, 54, and Timothy Bostic, 48, filed the suit after being denied a marriage license earlier this month, reported The Virginian-Pilot.
The lawsuit is the first such legal challenge filed in Virginia, and comes just one week after Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia announced plans to file their own lawsuit.
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The couple, who have been together since 1989, had considered getting married in another state, but eventually decided against it, according to Robert Ruloff, an attorney for London, a Norfolk real estate agent, and Bostic, an Old Dominion University assistant professor of English.
“They are Virginians and they want to be married in Virginia,” he said.
In 2006, Virginia voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.
But attorneys for the ACLU and Lambda Legal said Virginia’s ban and three underlying statutes violate the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Even if the couple did marry in nearby Maryland or the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal, Virginia’s anti-gay marriage laws also deny recognition of such marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that 50 percent of registered voters support same-sex marriage compared to 43 percent who don’t, with a clear majority of women approving it.
And a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) poll released the week prior found a clear majority of Virginians – 55 percent – support marriage equality. That number jumps to 71 percent for Virginians under the age of 30, but drops to about one third among Republicans.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to married gay couples.