Supporters of gay rights Friday celebrated their latest courtroom victory, the overturning of Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, as opponents condemned the decision as an infringement on states’ rights and vowed to take the issue to the Supreme Court.
Invoking Abraham Lincoln and the nation’s historic struggle against racial discrimination, a federal judge declared late Thursday that Virginia’s laws that limit marriage to a man and a woman violated the due process and equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment.
The ruling was the first to overturn one of the state amendments banning same-sex marriage that prevail throughout the South. It followed similar recent decisions by federal courts overturning marriage restrictions in Utah and Oklahoma, and by state courts in New Jersey and New Mexico.
“We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect,” wrote Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in Norfolk.
But a lawyer defending the marriage law in this case, Ken Connelly, said Friday that the ruling “interferes with the right of Virginians to determine the future of marriage in their state, and it raises serious constitutional issues.” Connelly is a staff counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group.
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