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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Marriage Ban in Virginia

In the case of Bostic v. Rainey, U. S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen today struck down Virginia's anti-gay marriage laws on grounds that they violate the U. S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection.  However, no gay wedding bells will ring in the Old Dominion anytime soon:  the ruling is stayed, pending appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Judge Allen, appointed to the bench by President Obama in 2011, began her ruling with this quotation from Mildred Loving, plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court interracial marriage case Loving v. Virginia in 1967:

On page 22 of her ruling, Judge Allen declared:
Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships. Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices - choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.
The judge also deliciously hoisted Justice Scalia with his own petard:
In Windsor, our Constitution was invoked to protect the individual rights of gay and lesbian citizens, and the propriety of such protection led to upholding state law against conflicting federal law. The propriety of invoking such protection remains compelling when faced with the task of evaluating the constitutionality of state laws. This propriety is described eloquently in a dissenting opinion authored by the Honorable Antonin Scalia:
As I have said, the real rationale of [the Windsor opinion] is that DOMA is motivated by "bare . . . desire to harm" couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.
Judge Allen concluded by saying, in part:
The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry. Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family. . . .

Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed. We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.
Read the entire ruling here.

Judge Allen's ruling is the first in a Southern state to uphold marriage equality (Oklahoma, where a similar ruling is pending appeal, is only sorta-kinda Southern in some places, more Western actually). Yesterday, a judge granted partial marriage recognition in Kentucky.  Today, another same-sex marriage lawsuit was filed in Alafuckingbama, of all places; click here for a map of lawsuits in progress or on appeal nationwide.

My word, all these judges across the country suddenly discovering that teh gayz are human, and entitled to the equal protection of the laws just like they was people. Something your Head Trucker brought up 35 years ago, but nobody wanted to listen to me then. Still, better late than never, right boys?

The dominos are piling up with breathtaking speed now. It's all over but the shouting, screaming, and whining from the nasty hardcore bigots on the religious right.


Frank said...

One by one they will come aboard, maybe some kicking and screaming, but they will come aboard.

Too bad that our opponents resent the judicial branch taking the lead, but when you compare the ability to use logic and reason congress pales in comparison. Except for a few Supremes, of course. The fact that Scalia's words were used by Judge Allen to strike Virginia's law is priceless.

Russ Manley said...

I thought so too - Bigmouth Scalia got it served back to him on a platter.

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