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Federal judges striking down gay marriage bans all over the U.S.

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Arkansas judge strikes down gay marriage ban

By ANDREW DEMILLO

3 hours ago

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A judge on Friday struck down Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage, saying the state has "no rational reason" for preventing gay couples from marrying.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that the 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution violates the rights of same-sex couples. He didn't put his ruling on hold as some judges have done in other states, opening the door for same-sex couples in Arkansas to begin seeking marriage licenses, though it was not clear whether that would happen before Monday.

"This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality," Piazza wrote. "The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent."

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office said he would appeal the ruling and asked Piazza to suspend it during that process.

"We respect the Court's decision, but, in keeping with the Attorney General's obligation to defend the state constitution, we will appeal," spokesman Aaron Sadler said.

Piazza issued his ruling late Friday, about half an hour after the marriage license office in Pulaski County closed.

Arkansas courthouses typically aren't open on weekends, but with the state in its early-voting period for a May 20 primary, several clerks' offices will be open Saturday. However, clerks reached by The Associated Press after Piazza issued his ruling said they hadn't been formally notified of it and weren't prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses.

At least one couple who sued over the ban said they hoped to wed quickly. Kathy Henson said she and her girlfriend Angelia Buford planned to seek a marriage license in neighboring Saline County as soon as offices opened.

"We think that (Piazza) did a really great job and that he ruled on the right side of history," Henson said.

The ruling came a week after McDaniel announced he personally supports gay marriage rights but would continue to defend the constitutional ban in court. Sadler said McDaniel sought the stay because "we know that questions about validity of certain actions will arise absent a stay."

The amendment was passed in 2004 with the overwhelming support of Arkansas voters. Piazza's ruling also overturns a 1997 state law banning gay marriage.

In his decision, Piazza cited the U.S. Supreme Court's 1967 decision that invalidated laws on interracial marriage.

"It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice," Piazza wrote, referring to that ruling. "The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it."

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Since then, lower-court judges have repeatedly cited the decision when striking down some of the same-sex marriage bans that were enacted after Massachusetts started recognizing gay marriages in 2004.

Federal judges have ruled against marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

In all, according to gay-rights groups, more than 70 lawsuits seeking marriage equality are pending in about 30 states. Democratic attorneys general in several states — including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon and Kentucky — have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans.

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights, praised the ruling.

"This victory is an essential step on the journey toward full equality for all," said HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native.

But the leader of the group that campaigned for the ban said the judge was undermining the will of voters.

"This ruling undermines marriage because once people start redefining marriage, there seems to be no place to stop," Arkansas Family Council President Jerry Cox said.

McDaniel, a Democrat in his final year as attorney general, is the first statewide elected official in Arkansas to support marriage equality.

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Wow this is amazing! Congrats to all the gays and lesbians in Arkansas! Equality for everyone.

:smooch:

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Another one bites the dust. :laugh:

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Wow this is amazing! Congrats to all the gays and lesbians in ​Arkansas! Equality for everyone.

:smooch:

:lmao: Sorry but this, along w/ OK , TX and Utah (those 3 states alone) I'm 'still' absolutely deer in the headlights in shock, yet lmao. Omfg if Mississippi is next every gay bar nationwide better be in 9/11 mode! :nervous: :lol: These freakin' gay activists ain't playing and know *exactly* what they're doing and where for a reason which is why these white trash, Chick Fil A gorging folks are melting/ going down faster like the wicked witch of the west. Even 6 months ago if you said states like PA, CO, WI, MI, OH, NV and the like I woulda believed it. This is beyond crazy surreal lol

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I live just 20 miles from Arkansas, have a lot of friends up there, this is great news.

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Idaho too! :dramatic:

Judge strikes down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban

May 14, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Gay and lesbian couples in Idaho could start getting married as soon as Friday after a judge ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale wrote in her decision Tuesday evening that Idaho's laws barring same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deny gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry. Ten other federal district courts have issued similar rulings supporting gay marriage rights.

Dale said the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting at 9 a.m. Friday.

"The Plaintiffs are entitled to extraordinary remedies because of their extraordinary injuries," Dale wrote, saying same-sex couples in Idaho have been denied the economic, emotional and spiritual benefits of marriage.

"Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love," she wrote.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter already has said he intends to appeal the case, meaning an appellate court could still put the weddings on hold. The three-day delay in allowing weddings is apparently in response to a request from the governor.

Otter cited the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman," he said in a statement. "Today's decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court."

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said he would consult with the governor on the state's appeal.

Four Idaho couples in November filed the lawsuit against the governor and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich challenging the marriage ban. They are Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers; Lori and Sharene Watsen; Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer; and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson.

Latta and Ehlers married in 2008 in California, and the Watsens married in 2011 in New York. Both couples have children and say Idaho wrongly treats Ehlers as a legal stranger to her grandchildren and requires Lori Watsen to obtain a new power of attorney every six months so she can have legal authority to consent to medical treatment for her son.

"We won," Latta said, holding the hand of her wife, Traci Ehlers.

The couple spoke on the steps of the federal courthouse Tuesday evening, surrounded by their friends and family as well as their attorneys and the three other plaintiff couples.

"I think we're going to go celebrate," Ehlers said.

Beierle and Rachael Robertson of Boise said they would be back at the courthouse Friday morning to get a marriage license.

"The first person I called when I got the news was my mom, and she said, 'I'm so proud of you Amby,'" Beierle said, holding back tears. "I don't think people understand what that means to native Idahoans who love this state and want to stay in this state but who want to be heard. It feels amazing."

The four couples' attorney, Deborah Ferguson, said the ruling recognized that the families are part of Idaho's community and that they deserved the same protections and respect as other families.

"The court's ruling is a victory not only for the courageous couples who brought this case, but for everyone who cares about freedom and fairness," Ferguson said in a statement.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Since then, lower-court judges have repeatedly cited the decision when striking down same-sex marriage bans that were enacted after Massachusetts started recognizing gay marriages in 2004.

In addition to Idaho, federal or state judges in Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, Utah and Arkansas have recently found those state bans to be unconstitutional. Judges have also ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

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it's a domino effect!

Federal judge overturns Oregon gay marriage ban; licenses issued

May 19, 2014, 1:13 PM | Reporting from Seattle

2yvjqlh.jpg

Supporters of same-sex marriage hold photos of themselves and their family members or partners at a federal courthouse in Eugene, Ore., last week. (Chris Pietsch / Associated Press)

By Maria L. La Ganga

A federal court judge in Oregon has thrown out the state’s same-sex marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional and discriminatory, placing gays and lesbians “at a disadvantage … without any rationally related government purpose.”

No sooner than the ruling was out, proponents of same-sex marriage said that marriage licenses were issued in Multnomah County, home to Portland.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last summer, not a single federal judge has ruled in favor of state same-sex marriage bans.

“It’s a surreal exciting moment not just for Oregon but for our nation,” said Ben West, one of the plaintiffs in the case, along with his partner, Paul Rummell. “It’s a beautiful moment for all families and all communities. I’m proud to be an Oregonian, Paul’s future husband.”

In February, the state's Democratic attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, said she would not defend the ban in court.

In Oregon, proponents of same-sex marriage have also gathered enough signatures to place a measure on the ballot to overturn the ban if the courts did not accomplish that first.

“The importance of Judge [Michael] McShane’s decision cannot be overemphasized,” said David Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. “Our federal Constitution does not allow any state – or its voters – to deny same-sex couples equal protection under the law simply because of who they are and who they love. This type of discrimination is wrong, and it’s also unconstitutional.”

"With this advancement of civil rights, gay and lesbian Oregonians are now equal under the law,” said Lee Ann Easton, an attorney who, with co-counsel Lake Perriguey, filed the Geiger case.

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ADD PA to this list!!! :Disco_Ball::inlove:

<3 Bill must be so happy! HolidayGuy too! <3

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Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban is struck down

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage was overturned by a federal judge Tuesday in a decision that legalized the practice throughout the Northeast and sent couples racing to pick up licenses.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III called the plaintiffs — a widow, 11 couples and one couple's teenage daughters — courageous for challenging the constitutionality of the ban passed by lawmakers in 1996.

"We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," the judge wrote.

The judge declined to put his ruling on hold for a possible appeal by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, so it went into immediate effect. The governor, who opposes gay marriage, did not issue a statement or indicate whether he would appeal. However, his state party chairman complained that an "activist" judge had usurped the power of the Legislature.

Amid a frenzy of celebration across the state, county offices in Philadelphia stayed open late to handle marriage applications, while officials in Pittsburgh were closed for election day but accepting them online. Couples must wait three days before getting married, unless a sympathetic judge grants a waiver.

Joe Parisi told his partner to "jet out of work" and get to Philadelphia City Hall.

"We didn't want to take the chance of having this be challenged and missing out on our opportunity," said Parisi, a Philadelphia resident who plans to marry Steven Seminelli.

They were among the first to get a license Tuesday afternoon, just hours after the judge's ruling.

The judge also ordered Pennsylvania to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which pursued the case, said of the ruling: "It's everything we had hoped for."

State marriage bans have been falling around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. If Tuesday's decision stands, Pennsylvania would become the 19th state to legalize gay marriage, according to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

The ACLU had argued that the bans deprive same-sex couples and their families of the legal protections, tax benefits and social statuses afforded to married couples.

Corbett's office was left to defend the law after Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to do so. A spokesman for Corbett's office said it was reviewing the opinion.

The Pennsylvania lawsuit, filed July 9, was the first known challenge to the state ban. At least five later test cases emerged, including one over a suburban county's decision last year to issue 174 marriage licenses to same-sex couples, before a court shut them down. Officials in Montgomery County were trying Tuesday to have that order lifted.

Oregon became the 18th state to recognize same-sex marriage on Monday, when couples began applying for marriage licenses immediately after a federal judge invalidated its voter-approved ban.

Also Monday, a federal judge in Utah ordered state officials to recognize more than 1,000 gay marriages that took place in the state over a two-week period before the U.S. Supreme Court halted same-sex weddings with an emergency stay.

And later Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that no same-sex marriages will be allowed or recognized in Idaho until an appeal to a ruling May 13 overturning that state's ban is decided.

Jones, a Republican and an appointee of former President George W. Bush, was previously known for a 2005 decision in which he barred a Pennsylvania school district from teaching intelligent design in biology class, saying it was "a mere re-labeling of creationism."

The torrent of celebration from Democrats and supporters Tuesday was met by criticism from state Republicans, who as recently as 2012 endorsed a platform defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"An activist judiciary has substituted its judgment in place of the law created by the elected representatives of Pennsylvania," Chairman Rob Gleason said, "and has stifled the ongoing debate of people with differing points of view."

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Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Gay Marriage Ban

MADISON, Wis. June 7, 2014 (AP)

By SCOTT BAUER Associated Press

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage on Friday, ruling it unconstitutional.

It wasn't clear whether U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb's 88-page ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately. But the ruling makes Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.

County clerks in Milwaukee and Madison said they had just learned of the decision and were trying to figure out if and when they could begin issuing marriage licenses.

Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said he was keeping his office open while an attorney reviewed the decision in case he could begin accepting marriage licenses Friday evening.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in February on behalf of four gay couples, then later expanded to eight, challenging Wisconsin's constitutional ban on gay marriage. Messages left with ACLU's attorneys were not immediately returned Friday.

A spokeswoman for Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office defended the law in court, did not immediately return a message.

The lawsuit alleged that Wisconsin's ban violates the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to equal protection and due process, asserting the prohibition deprives gay couples of the legal protections that married couples enjoy simply because of their gender.

State marriage bans have been falling around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In May, Czarnezki and Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said they had trained additional staff to issue marriage licenses and worked with the chief judge to have judges on hand to perform ceremonies.

Wisconsin has a five-day waiting period between the application for and issuing of marriage licenses. County clerks can waive the waiting period at their discretion as long as applicants pay a $25 fee.

Czarnezki and McDonell have said it wasn't unusual to waive the waiting period for service members and others with special circumstances, and they would do so for gay couples who pay the fee.

Voters amended the Wisconsin Constitution in 2006, to outlaw gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The state has offered a domestic partner registry that affords gay couples a host of legal rights since 2009, but its future is in doubt; the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court is currently weighing whether it violates the constitution.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 Republican candidate for president, has a long history of opposing gay marriage and Wisconsin's 2009 domestic registry law. But in recent months he's avoided talking directly about the state's ban, which he supported, saying it's an issue that needs to be decided by the courts and state voters who can amend the constitution.

Walker's likely Democratic challenger in the governor's race, Mary Burke, supports legalizing gay marriage.

———

Associated Press writer M.L. Johnson contributed to this report from Milwaukee.

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I am still waiting for the sky to fall as was predicted by right wingers.......

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Federal Judge To Wisconsin: You Know 'Traditional' Marriage Was Polygamy, Right?

Posted: 06/06/2014 6:08 pm EDT Updated: 06/06/2014 9:59 pm EDT

WASHINGTON -- The federal judge who struck down Wisconsin's gay marriage ban thinks state officials have a thing or two to learn about the history of marriage as a social institution.

In defending their same-sex marriage ban, state officials claimed that "virtually all cultures through time" have recognized marriage "as the union of an opposite-sex couple."

But as U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in her 88-page ruling on Friday, that's simply not true.

"As an initial matter, defendants and amici have overstated their argument. Throughout history, the most 'traditional' form of marriage has not been between one man and one woman, but between one man and multiple women, which presumably is not a tradition that defendants and amici would like to continue," Crabb wrote in her opinion.

History alone wasn't enough to justify a ban on same-sex marriage, Crabb said.

"Like moral disapproval, tradition alone proves nothing more than a state's desire to prohibit particular conduct," she wrote, citing Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in a 2003 sodomy case, which stated that "'preserving the traditional institution of marriage' is just a kinder way of describing the State's moral disapproval of same-sex couples."

Crabb pointed out that tradition was used as an argument to keep women from voting.

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stateofssm.jpg

Is this up to date?

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Kentucky.

Damn, who would have ever thought.

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Supreme Court Rejects Gay Marriage Appeals From 5 States

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court turned away appeals Monday from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages, paving the way for an immediate expansion of gay and lesbian unions.

The justices on Monday did not comment in rejecting appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. No other state cases were currently pending with the high court, but the justices stopped short of resolving for now the question of same-sex marriage nationwide.

The court's order immediately ends delays on marriage in those states. Couples in six other states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — should be able to get married in short order. Those states would be bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court's review.

That would make same-sex marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

Experts and advocates on both sides of the issue believed the justices would step in and decide gay marriage cases this term.

The justices have an obligation to settle an issue of such national importance, not abdicate that responsibility to lower court judges, the advocates said. Opting out of hearing the cases leaves those lower court rulings in place.

Two other appeals courts, in Cincinnati and San Francisco, could issue decisions any time in same-sex marriage cases. Judges in the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit who are weighing pro-gay marriage rulings in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, appeared more likely to rule in favor of state bans than did the 9th Circuit judges in San Francisco, who are considering Idaho and Nevada restrictions on marriage.

It takes just four of the nine justices to vote to hear a case, but it takes a majority of at least five for an eventual ruling. Monday's opaque order did not indicate how the justices voted on whether to hear the appeals.

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In case you guys didn't know it yesterday was a HUGE victory for marriage equality in the US!!!!!! HUGE day! In proud to say that in my native state and current state same sex marriages are now recognized and new ones allowed. I am proud to be an American :)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -

Gay marriage is legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear cases from Virginia and four other states that wanted to keep their same-sex marriage bans in place.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring praised the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriages to go forward in Virginia and says they will go forward immediately.

At a press conference Monday in Arlington, Herring said that all Virginia local court clerks must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Herring, a Democrat who supports same sex marriage and argued in federal court that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage should be struck down, said it was a historic day and that he is proud that Virginia was on the right side of the law and the right side of history.

Solicitor General Stuart Rafael says all couples getting married in Virginia will now fill out a license that identifies each party as "spouse" rather than "husband" or "wife."

In Roanoke, Lisa Lamphier and Judy Opincar were the first couple to get a marriage license. They arrived at the courthouse at 1:15 p.m. Monday.

"I was like Judy, Judy, Judy, we're getting married. We're going to make it official! We cried. We cried," Lamphier said.

Circuit Court Clerks spent much of the morning waiting for directions and these forms from the State Registrar.

Lamphier and Opincar emerged from the courthouse, speechless that they'd finally done it.

For many couples, this is as much about receiving the same benefits (insurance, right to know in emergency medical situations and federal tax breaks) as heterosexual couples.

Now, they are entitled to those benefits.

After this ruling is implemented in the ten other states affected by the Supreme Court's decision this morning, the majority of Americans will live in a state where same-sex marriages are legal.

Click here to read a story from WDBJ7's Tim Saunders about how gay marriage opponents say the Supreme Court is neglecting its duty.

====================

The Richmond-based federal appeals court says its ruling authorizing same-sex marriages in Virginia will take effect Monday afternoon.

According to the clerk's office, the mandate will be issued at 1 p.m. Court clerks will be able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after that time.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly turning away appeals from Virginia and four other states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The court's order effectively makes gay marriage legal now in 30 states.

Without comment, the justices brought to an end delays in same-sex marriages in five states Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin as well as Virginia.

Many of circuit courts we spoke to are still waiting to get more direction and paperwork from Herring to implement.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said hes working with the 4th District Court, local clerks, Governor Terry McAuliffes office, and state agencies to make sure everyone knows how to implement the exciting decision.

Governor McAuliffe issued a statement, saying in part: "Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well."

Same-sex couples we spoke to reiterated that this is a big day for Virginia and hope it's another big step for the rest of the country.

We're very happy that we can legally be married in Virginia and look forward to this spreading to the other 20 states, Carla Spencer said.

The Supreme Court didn't say too much about its decision not to take up the case, but in order for the court to hear a case, just four of the nine justices must agree to it.

Mondays decision also comes as a disappointment to many people. We'll get reaction from the other side and have much more tonight at 5 and 6.

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Here is the official statement from Governor Terry McAuliffe:

This is a historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country. On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.

I applaud all of the Virginians who gave so much time and effort in the fight for equality, and congratulate my friend Attorney General Mark Herring on this important victory for justice and equal treatment under the law.

Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well.

Here is the official statement from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring:

"A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through.

"All Virginians have the constitutional right to be treated fairly and equally, to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward.

"This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience."

Here is the official statement from Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell:

I am disappointed that the United States Supreme Court declined to hear these cases. The debate over Virginia's constitutional amendment defining marriage needs a clear and decisive resolution from the Supreme Court. The Courts decision today leaves Virginians without an affirmative answer on this issue, unnecessarily prolonging the political debate and creating long-term uncertainty regarding the status of same-sex marriages in Virginia depending on the outcome of litigation in other parts of the country.

Unfortunately, Virginians have not been represented throughout this legal process. Attorney General Mark Herring refused to defend a duly-adopted provision of Virginias Constitution, unilaterally placing his personal, political views ahead of the people and their elected representatives. I am a strong supporter of traditional marriage. There are many Virginians who agree with me and some who do not. Regardless of how one feels about marriage, we should all agree that Virginians deserve to have their voices heard and votes vigorously defended in Court. That did not happen in this case.

As I have said before, the ramifications of the Attorney Generals refusal to defend the law extend much further than any one court case. His actions represent a dangerous threat to the rule of law, show disregard for the oath of office and demonstrate contempt for the legislative and democratic processes by which Virginians adopt their laws.

Here is the official statement from U.S. Senator Tim Kaine:

In letting the Fourth Circuit's decision stand, the Supreme Court has given loving couples across the Commonwealth the freedom to marry. I join countless Virginians in celebrating the end of the discriminatory constitutional ban that has denied same-sex couples this fundamental right. Today, we have taken a major step toward Jeffersons ideal that all men are created equal."

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In case you guys didn't know it yesterday was a HUGE victory for marriage equality in the US!!!!!! HUGE day! In proud to say that in my native state and current state same sex marriages are now recognized and new ones allowed. I am proud to be an American :)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -

Gay marriage is legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear cases from Virginia and four other states that wanted to keep their same-sex marriage bans in place.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring praised the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriages to go forward in Virginia and says they will go forward immediately.

At a press conference Monday in Arlington, Herring said that all Virginia local court clerks must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Herring, a Democrat who supports same sex marriage and argued in federal court that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage should be struck down, said it was a historic day and that he is proud that Virginia was on the right side of the law and the right side of history.

Solicitor General Stuart Rafael says all couples getting married in Virginia will now fill out a license that identifies each party as "spouse" rather than "husband" or "wife."

In Roanoke, Lisa Lamphier and Judy Opincar were the first couple to get a marriage license. They arrived at the courthouse at 1:15 p.m. Monday.

"I was like Judy, Judy, Judy, we're getting married. We're going to make it official! We cried. We cried," Lamphier said.

Circuit Court Clerks spent much of the morning waiting for directions and these forms from the State Registrar.

Lamphier and Opincar emerged from the courthouse, speechless that they'd finally done it.

For many couples, this is as much about receiving the same benefits (insurance, right to know in emergency medical situations and federal tax breaks) as heterosexual couples.

Now, they are entitled to those benefits.

After this ruling is implemented in the ten other states affected by the Supreme Court's decision this morning, the majority of Americans will live in a state where same-sex marriages are legal.

Click here to read a story from WDBJ7's Tim Saunders about how gay marriage opponents say the Supreme Court is neglecting its duty.

====================

The Richmond-based federal appeals court says its ruling authorizing same-sex marriages in Virginia will take effect Monday afternoon.

According to the clerk's office, the mandate will be issued at 1 p.m. Court clerks will be able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after that time.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly turning away appeals from Virginia and four other states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The court's order effectively makes gay marriage legal now in 30 states.

Without comment, the justices brought to an end delays in same-sex marriages in five states Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin as well as Virginia.

Many of circuit courts we spoke to are still waiting to get more direction and paperwork from Herring to implement.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said hes working with the 4th District Court, local clerks, Governor Terry McAuliffes office, and state agencies to make sure everyone knows how to implement the exciting decision.

Governor McAuliffe issued a statement, saying in part: "Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well."

Same-sex couples we spoke to reiterated that this is a big day for Virginia and hope it's another big step for the rest of the country.

We're very happy that we can legally be married in Virginia and look forward to this spreading to the other 20 states, Carla Spencer said.

The Supreme Court didn't say too much about its decision not to take up the case, but in order for the court to hear a case, just four of the nine justices must agree to it.

Mondays decision also comes as a disappointment to many people. We'll get reaction from the other side and have much more tonight at 5 and 6.

Overflow content. Touch to scroll.

Open embedded content in new window

Open embedded content in new window

Open embedded content in new window

Open embedded content in new window

Open embedded content in new window

Open embedded content in new window

Open embedded content in new window

Gallery

Landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases

Here is the official statement from Governor Terry McAuliffe:

This is a historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country. On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.

I applaud all of the Virginians who gave so much time and effort in the fight for equality, and congratulate my friend Attorney General Mark Herring on this important victory for justice and equal treatment under the law.

Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well.

Here is the official statement from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring:

"A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through.

"All Virginians have the constitutional right to be treated fairly and equally, to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward.

"This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience."

Here is the official statement from Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell:

I am disappointed that the United States Supreme Court declined to hear these cases. The debate over Virginia's constitutional amendment defining marriage needs a clear and decisive resolution from the Supreme Court. The Courts decision today leaves Virginians without an affirmative answer on this issue, unnecessarily prolonging the political debate and creating long-term uncertainty regarding the status of same-sex marriages in Virginia depending on the outcome of litigation in other parts of the country.

Unfortunately, Virginians have not been represented throughout this legal process. Attorney General Mark Herring refused to defend a duly-adopted provision of Virginias Constitution, unilaterally placing his personal, political views ahead of the people and their elected representatives. I am a strong supporter of traditional marriage. There are many Virginians who agree with me and some who do not. Regardless of how one feels about marriage, we should all agree that Virginians deserve to have their voices heard and votes vigorously defended in Court. That did not happen in this case.

As I have said before, the ramifications of the Attorney Generals refusal to defend the law extend much further than any one court case. His actions represent a dangerous threat to the rule of law, show disregard for the oath of office and demonstrate contempt for the legislative and democratic processes by which Virginians adopt their laws.

Here is the official statement from U.S. Senator Tim Kaine:

In letting the Fourth Circuit's decision stand, the Supreme Court has given loving couples across the Commonwealth the freedom to marry. I join countless Virginians in celebrating the end of the discriminatory constitutional ban that has denied same-sex couples this fundamental right. Today, we have taken a major step toward Jeffersons ideal that all men are created equal."

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