News (USA)

County clerk seeks stay in Va. same-sex marriage ruling

RICHMOND, Va. — A county court clerk in northern Virginia on Friday sought to delay a federal appeals court ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Attorneys for Michelle B. McQuigg, clerk of Prince William County’s Circuit Court, asked for the delay while the decision was appealed to the Supreme Court.

Michele B. McQuigg
Michele B. McQuigg

They argued the delay would “ensure the orderly resolution of the important constitutional question presented in this case while avoiding uncertainty for the public and irreparable injury to the commonwealth.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and Lambda Legal, in a filing Friday, opposed the stay.

A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled 2-1 Monday that Virginia’s gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2006 is unconstitutional. It typically grants stays while cases are appealed to the Supreme Court.

Without a stay, marriage licenses for Virginia same-sex couples could be issued 21 days after the ruling.

A statement from the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing McQuigg, said the amendment was passed by a majority of Virginians affirming “marriage as a man-woman union.”

“The people of Virginia and every other state are free to preserve that understanding of marriage in their laws,” the statement continued.

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They could have asked the full 4th Circuit to review the case. Instead they said they would appeal to the Supreme Court to avoid “legal uncertainty and confusion” that has occurred in other states that have had conflicting rulings on gay marriage.

“In short,” they wrote, “staying the mandate will allow the orderly and dignified resolution of this important constitutional question not only in Virginia, but throughout the entire circuit.”

In Colorado, for instance, the state’s gay marriage ban is still the law although recent rulings in federal and state court have found it to be unconstitutional. Those rulings have been put on hold during appeals.

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