Virginia AG officiates as marriage plaintiffs renew wedding vows

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring officiates as Carol Schall and Mary Townley renew their wedding vows on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. Brad Kutner, GayRVA.com

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring officiates as Carol Schall and Mary Townley renew their wedding vows on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014.Brad Kutner, GayRVA.com

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring officiates as Carol Schall and Mary Townley renew their wedding vows on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014.

RICHMOND, Va. — In an emotional ceremony in front of the John Marshall Courthouse in downtown Richmond, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring renewed the vows of two of the plaintiffs who successfully challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“This is the outcome we have hoped for,” said Herring, who stated just days after taking office in January that he would not defend the state’s gay marriage ban. “This is the outcome our constitution guarantees.”

“The rights and privilege of marriage, which are guaranteed to us by the US constitution, are now available to all loving couples in Virginia,” said Herring.

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Herring’s words came only a few afters after the U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear same-sex marriage appeals from five states, passing the rulings back to the circuit courts, which have all struck their respective state’s bans.

Carol Schall and Mary Townley, two of the plaintiffs in Virginia’s case, and their daughter Emily, stood behind Herring while he addressed an excited crowd of press and folks who came to show their support for ending the ban.

“For the first time legally in Virginia, I am here with my wife Mary and my daughter Emily,” said Schall. “I don’t think there’s any more profound or simple statement for me to say, except that.”

Today’s events mark the end of a nearly year long legal battle, starting in Norfolk in February, then in Richmond in May. The Fourth Circuit ruling came down in August, but the Supreme Court stayed the ruling pending appeal.

Though Schall and Townley were married in California in 2008, Herring proceeded to renew the couple’s vows on the steps of the court house Monday.

It was hard to find a dry eye as he uttered the words: “It is with pleasure that I conclude this ceremony, renewing these vows of marriage that joined you and forever bind you as wife and wife. You may celebrate these vows with a sign of affection. You may kiss each other!”


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