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The organization plans to file suit this summer; Ken Cuccinelli has said he will defend the ban.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Two weeks after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia announced that it will file suit in federal court to challenge Virginia’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
“Thousands of Virginia couples are already living the deep commitment associated with marriage, without legal recognition of their relationships. They and their children deserve the legal protections that come with state-recognized marriage,” ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastanaga said Tuesday.
“There is no rational reason for denying these loving couples the freedom to marry and every reason to grant them the same recognition by civil authorities that opposite-sex couples have,” said Gastanaga, who noted that the suit will be filed this summer.
The Supreme Court last month struck down a key part of DOMA, which denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples married in states that recognize such unions. But states still will make their own decisions on who is legally married.
The justices also effectively undercut California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage — a ruling that has no bearing on Virginia law.
Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., either allow same-sex marriage, or will shortly. The laws in Rhode Island and Minnesota take effect Aug. 1.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said that he will continue to defend Virginia’s law that recognizes only the union of a man and woman as marriage.
Lawyers from the ACLU of Virginia will join a team of lawyers from the national ACLU and Lambda Legal — a civil rights organization that focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. They will argue that the Virginia Constitution and statutes denying the freedom to marry violate the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law, according to a statement released by the organization.
Equality Virginia, a leading gay-rights group in the commonwealth, welcomed the ACLU’s announcement.
“We applaud and support the actions of the ACLU and Lambda Legal to help bring all of the benefits, rights, and responsibilities that come with marriage equality to every family in Virginia,” said James Parrish, the group’s executive director.
Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said that the ACLU lawsuit is not surprising, given the recent decisions from the Supreme Court.
“Despite the maneuvers of the ACLU, the debate over marriage will continue in the legislative and political process, where it belongs,” Cobb said.
“The Family Foundation of Virginia will continue to educate on the reason for marriage as the bedrock of society and the structure through which children are best protected and can most likely mature into productive members of society.”
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