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Appeals court allows all Va. same-sex couples to join marriage challenge

Appeals court allows all Va. same-sex couples to join marriage challenge

RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Monday granted a motion filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Virginia to intervene in Bostic v. Rainey, the federal court challenge to Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Bill Tiernan, The Virginian-Pilot
From left back row, Carol Schall , Emily Schall-Townley,16, daughter of Schall and Townley and Mary Townley , Tim Bostic and Tony London celebrate the Thursday’s ruling by federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Norfolk, Va.

The motion is on behalf of a class of all Virginia’s same-sex couples; the class is simultaneously challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban in its own case, Harris v. Rainey.

The decision effectively allows the two federal challenges to Virgina’s same-sex marriage ban to be consolidated on appeal without delaying or disrupting either case.

“We are pleased the court granted our motion to intervene because the Bostic appeal could decide the fate of not only both couples involved, but also the entire class of more than 14,000 same-sex couples in Virginia whom we represent,” said Greg Nevins, Counsel in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

On February 13, a federal judge in Norfolk ruled, in Bostic v. Rainey, that the state’s ban is unconstitutional, but delayed her ruling while it is appealed.

The plaintiffs in the Bostic case are represented by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, who argued against California’ s Proposition before the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

The other case, Harris v. Rainey, was filed August 1 in the U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg. In January, the court certified the lawsuit as a class action, extending the scope of those represented in the lawsuit to all same-sex couples in the state who cannot legally marry or whose legal marriages performed elsewhere are not recognized by the Commonwealth.

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“We’re thrilled that all of Virginia’s same-sex couples will be before the court of appeals together, arguing for the freedom to marry and bringing their many compelling stories to the common cause,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project.”

The Harris case is awaiting decision from the federal trial court. Once that decision is issued, it will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit.

Also Monday, the appeals court outlined a schedule Monday that will expedite the Bostic case to the Richmond court by May, with briefs scheduled for later this month. The expedited review had been sought by the plaintiffs who challenged the ban as well as Attorney General Mark Herring.

Follow these cases: Bostic v. Rainey and Harris v. Rainey.

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