The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 20 granted an emergency request to stay an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which said that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Some gay couples were preparing to marry at 8 a.m. on Aug. 21, but the stay from the Supreme Court means those weddings won't be taking place pending further appeal.
The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked by
The Commonwealth of Virginia has asked the Supreme Court to consider Virginia's case — brought by the same legal team that successfully challenged California's anti-gay marriage amendment — in its next term. The state filed its petition for writ of certiorari, or request for review, on Aug. 8.
Given the stay, the attorneys for the same-sex couples suing in Virginia for the right to marry also now want the Supreme Court to take up the case.
“Never before have federal courts across this country so swiftly, convincingly and unanimously come to the same conclusion on an imperative constitutional question as they have when presented with the issue of marriage equality,” said lead co-counsel David Boies . “The federal court system agrees, the majority of Americans agree and the president of the United States agrees that it is time this country treats its same-sex couples and their children just the same as all other loving families. We are confident that when the Supreme Court reviews the Bostic case, it too will agree and end the flagrant injustice of segregating Americans based on sexual orientation.”
Tim Bostic, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said he and his partner are disappointed they must wait to wed. However, he added, "We feel that this case deserves to be heard by the Supreme Court and be finally decided for all Americans. There are thousands of couples just like us in 30 other states waiting to get married. It is time for all Americans to be able to enjoy the freedom to marry, no matter what state they live in.”
The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the primary sponsor of the case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia last July and maintains that Virginia's ban on gay marriage violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In mid-February, U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled that all laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying in Virginia are unconstitutional, and recognized that they single out gay and lesbian Virginians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of “second-class citizens.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that ruling on July 28.