Virginia: Recognition of same-sex relationships & LGBT equality
Civil unions, same-sex marriage (SSM) & LGBT
in Virginia. SSM opinion polls. Two federal
lawsuits attack the
state constitutional SSM ban.
SSM approved by District Court and U.S. 4th
Court of Appeals. The 4th Circuit decision
is not implemented yet, and may be stayed.
"LGBT" is an acronym referring to the Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual community.
SSM refers to same-sex marriage
Overview of the progress towards equality by the LGBT community in Virginia:
In 2006, Virginia voters voted 57% to 43% in favor of the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the Virginia Constitution. It banned -- and still bans -- marriages and civil unions for same-sex couples. But more recent polls indicate that a significant majority of voters support the right of such couples to marry. If the amendment were voted upon today, it might be rejected.
Virginia has been considered a "purple state" for some years. But the election in 2013-NOV of Democrats as governor and attorney general seems to indicate a swing to the left, into solidly blue territory.
Robert McCartney, a columnist for the Washington Post wrote of the 2013 elections:
"Of the many lessons to draw from Virginia’s unusual gubernatorial election Tuesday, one of the most surprising was Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s victory even while supporting such liberal policies as same-sex marriage and stricter gun controls.
That’s an enormous change in Virginia just within the past decade, and it illustrates how a purple swing state is acquiring a more bluish tinge. ..."
"Stepping back from the ebbs and flows of the past few weeks, an overall message of the campaign was a shift to the left on such issues as guns and gays. ..."
"Seven years ago, Virginians voted by a landslide to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. But McAuliffe [D] painted Cuccinelli [R] as behind the times for battling against equal rights for gays. ..."
The changes result partly from national changes in attitudes and partly from shifting demographics that have transformed Virginia from a conservative Southern state to a centrist Middle Atlantic one. ..."
" 'Republicans used to win on being the party of personal liberty. Now, among women and young people, that perception is entirely reversed. They are the party of government restriction,' said Bob Holsworth, a longtime Richmond political commentator." 1,2
The lawsuit Bostic v. Rainey was filed In 2013-JUL with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Its goal is to legalize marriages in Virginia by same-sex couples, and to require the state recognition of such marriages made out-of-state. The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) supported the couples. The two attorneys who successfully argued the famous Hollingsworth v. Perry case before the U.S. Supreme Court joined the plaintiffs' team. (Hollingsworth was the lawsuit that restored marriage equality to California in mid-2013.)
There are over 80 active lawsuits in over 30 states in both federal and state courts that are attempting to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. All of the rulings issued to date have affirmed the right of such couples to marry. However most have been stayed pending appeals. These rulings have all been based on the conflict between:
- The state marriage statutes and/or constitutional amendments that ban marriage by same-sex couples and
- The due process & equal protection clauses of 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that require federal and state governments to treat people equally.
This was the same conflict decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia during 1967 which legalized interracial marriage across the U.S.
District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in Virginia conducted hearings on Bostic and issued a ruling during 2014-FEB. She declared the consitutional amendment to be unenforceable, and void because it conflicts with the 14th Amendment.
The case was appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In late 2014-JUL, a three-judge panel of that court issued its decision upholding the District Court decision. That ruling has not yet been activated, so same-sex couples cannot marry at this time. The defendants are expected to appeal the ruling shortly either to the full Circuit Court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Topics included in this section:
- A more detailed introduction to the conflict
marriage (SSM) & LGBT
- Part 1: Civil unions, same-sex marriages (SSM) and LGBT rights
in the state of Virginia. SSM opinion polls. First federal lawsuit "Bostic v. Rainey" attacks
constitutional ban of SSM.
- Part 2: A second lawsuit, "Harris v. McDonnell," filed by ACLU & Lambda Legal. "Bostic v. Rainey" lawsuit receives a boost.
- Part 3: "Bostic" lawsuit gets a boost (Cont'd).
Opposing beliefs about marriage equality. Attorney General's office reverses position
about marriage equality.
- Part 4: 2013-JAN: Attorney General's office reverses
marriage equality (Cont'd). 2013-JAN: Harris case proceeds.
- Part 5: 2013-FEB: Oral arguments heard in Bostic case.
Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen issues ruling. Reactions to the ruling.
- Part 6: 2013-FEB: More reactions to ruling in Bostic.
Comparing case to Loving v. Virginia. A legal opinion of Bostic.
- Part 7: 2013-APR: Bostic v. Rainey appealed to 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Harris plaintiffs to become involved in appeal. Briefs by Attorney General & plaintiffs' attorneys.
- Part 8: 2013-APR to JUL: 2014-APR - JUL: Opinion on AG's
refusal to defend constitution. Polls show support for SSM. Court of Appeals issued
ruling in Bostic v. Rainey supporting marriage equality.
- Part 9: 2014-JUL: Bostic v. Rainey: Court of Appeals
ruling favoring marriage equality (Cont'd).
Various reactions to the ruling by media, judges,
- Part 10: 2014-JUL: Bostic v. Rainey: Reactions to
the Court of Appeals' ruling by advocacy groups.
Impact in adjacent states. Possible future
scenarios. Reaction by the public.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Robert McCartney, "Terry McAuliffe victory in governor’s race shows purple Virginia is acquiring bluish tinge." Washington Post, 2013-NOV-05, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Paul Steinhauser & Halimah Abdullah, " Virginia's attorney general: state's same-sex marriage ban unlawful," CNN, 2014-JAN-23, at: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/
How you got here
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2014-JAN-24
Latest update: 2014-JUL-29
Author: B.A. Robinson