Federal Judge Strikes Down Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban

On Thursday night, a federal judge struck down the Virginia ban on gay marriage after Mark Herring, the state’s new Democratic Attorney General, reversed the state’s prior defense of the ban. In a rather blistering ruling, U.S. District Judge Arena L. Wright Allen determined that the ban is indeed unconstitutional, and ruled that the argument in favor of upholding it “lacks any rational basis” and “disregards the gravity of the ongoing significant harm being inflicted upon Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens.”

“The Supreme Court has recognized repeatedly that marriage is a fundamental right protected by both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Allen’s ruling reads. “[Virginia’s Marriage Laws] limit the fundamental right to marry to only those Virginia citizens willing to choose a member of the opposite gender for a spouse. These laws interject profound government interference into one of the most personal choices a person makes.”

Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2006. Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the state's previous Attorney General, defended the ban in court, but Herring — who won the race to succeed Cuccinelli by an extremely narrow margin in November — announced shortly after taking office that he wouldn’t do the same.

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